Alexandria author teaches kids gratitude through new book

Harper Counts Her Blessings is a children’s book about family and thankfulness.

Photo courtesy of Kristi Guillory-Reid

Accomplished attorney, policy strategist, mother and Alexandria local Kristi Guillory Reid has always had a passion for writing. After her father passed away, she wrote an op-ed for CNN on the importance of hospice care. When daughter Harper was born, Reid contributed an article to a local magazine about the challenges of raising an only child.

One day during a visit, Harper’s godmother simply looked at Reid and asked encouragingly, “Why don’t you write a children’s book?” That single question set her mind in motion.

As she drew on experiences from her daughter’s daily life, Reid realized the importance of instilling a sense of gratitude.  “Teaching our children to be thankful is a family value that never goes out of style,” she says.

The easy-reader, picture book Harper Counts Her Blessings focuses on a four-year-old girl who has trouble finding things to be thankful for. Fortunately, her loving parents are there to point out all the wonderful, simple daily occurrences that are worth cherishing. Author Kristi Guillory Reid answers our questions about this timeless, positive story below:

How did you get the idea to write Harper Counts Her Blessings?

Every night as Harper prepares to go to bed, my husband and I talk to her about what she has done that day and how she needs to be grateful for these things, even the little things, like helping her friends or getting a hug from her dad before he drops her off for the day.  I used our bedtime routine, coupled with anecdotes from her days in preschool, to develop the idea for Harper Counts Her Blessings. 

Tell us what is important about the main character, Harper. 

Harper is curious about her surroundings, kind, loves her family and is able to be more and more independent each day. One important concept that I wanted to convey through Harper’s character is a strong, confident, African-American young girl. We don’t often see many books that have a positive African-American girl as the main character, and this is a void that I wanted to fill.

What do you want children and their families to take away from the story?

The themes of my book are timeless, universal and gender neutral: thankfulness, gratitude and taking time each day as a family to practice these concepts. In our current times, we can all gain something from taking time each day to catch our breath and to remember that we all have something to be grateful for, no matter how hard our day has been.

How did you connect with the illustrator?

My illustrator, Jerry Craft, also served as my publisher.  I was connected to him through another children’s book author. Jerry is an award-winning illustrator who has illustrated and written numerous children’s books, graphic novels and middle-grade novels for publishers such as HarperCollins, Scholastic and his own publishing company, Mama’s Boyz, Inc. He was able to vividly bring my ideas to life.

Do you have any plans to write additional children’s books in the future?

Presently, I want to work on increasing engagement and getting the word out about Harper Counts Her Blessings, but I definitely have some ideas for a future book.

How can our readers purchase a copy of the book?

People can purchase my book on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. Additionally, readers can connect with me on Instagram (@kristigreid), and purchase a personalized copy of my book from me directly.

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