Happy spring, readers! We're delighted to have the incredible, multi-published author, Laura Sassi on the blog today! Laura is the author of many books for children including her newest release, My Tender Heart Bible (illustrated by Sandra Eide). My Tender Heart Bible is a sweet rhyming board book that showcases several stories from the bible in a way that's perfect for young readers. Want to know more about Laura and her newest book, PLUS want a chance to win a copy? Read on...
Q: Hi, Laura! #SeasonsOfKidLit is ecstatic you could join us today to talk about your newest book, My Tender Heart Bible, and your other spring titles, too. First, for those who haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet, can you share a little about yourself with everyone and how you got into writing for children?
A: I am a lifelong learner and storyteller. My first career was teaching. Since then, I’ve added speaker, children’s ministry director, history museum docent, mom and a host of other things to that list. And through it all, I’ve set aside time write books, poems and other pieces that offer feel-good messages of kindness, friendship, hope, and love. Over the years, I discovered that I have a special knack and passion for telling stories in rhyme, so eight of my nine books for children are rhyming. My very first book, Goodnight, Ark, came out in 2014. It was followed by Goodnight, Manger, Love is Kind (the only one that doesn’t rhyme), Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, Little Ewe, Bunny Finds Easter, Happy Birthday Christmas Child, and, just out, My Tender Heart Bible. The ninth, My Tender Heart Prayer Book will release in Fall 2023.
Q: Your new board book, My Tender Heart Bible, looks like the perfect read for spring and the Easter holiday! It offers rhyming, familiar bible stories, and sweet illustrations making it accessible to young readers. Can you share a little more about your book with us and what inspired you to write My Tender Heart Bible?
A: Published by Paraclete Press, My Tender Heart Bible introduces littlest ones to twelve of my favorite stories from the Old and New Testament, rendered in poetic rhyme which, both individually and together, point to God’s redemptive love. Each retelling is accompanied by a Bible citation, a beautiful illustration by Sandra Eide, and a Heart Moment of prayer. The book is inspired by memories of sitting with my own children when they were little to read or re-tell Bible stories so they could grasp just how much God loved them.
Here is a picture of one of my favorite spreads (and the one from which the cover was selected). I especially like because it really captures Jesus’s love for the little children. I also love the diverse depiction of the children as well as their joyous expressions. And little ones, I have noticed, love Sandra’s inclusion of a dog! That’s just one example of the wonderful extra details she has included throughout the book.
Q: How did the writing process for My Tender Heart Bible differ from some of the other books you've authored? How did you know which Bible stories to highlight for young readers?
A: Writing this book was a spiritual, prayerful process for me. This is because, unlike most of what I’ve written, I wasn’t just writing any story. Rather, I was conveying, for little ears, the essence of God’s story, and wanted to make sure I got it right. In creating the collection, I spent hours reading my own Bible, looking things up in various concordances and then cross-checking Scripture against Scripture. I also had several Christian colleagues and friends read the stories with a critical eye towards honoring the Biblical text.
Once I felt each story was well-grounded, it was my joy to put it into rhyme. With this collection, I had three rhyme-focused guiding principles. First, the story, not the rhyme, needed to come first. Second, the versification I selected for each story needed to fit the feel of each story. Third, the story told in rhyme needed to be short enough to appeal to the toddler audience, while also appealing to older siblings (up to age six or so) who might also be joining in the reading.
Thanks for sharing the process with us, Larua! That's so insightful.
Q: You've authored Little Ewe -The Story About One Lost Sheep, and Bunny Finds Easter - two other adorable spring titles. Can you share a little more about these titles with us? What can readers expect to see when flipping through the pages of these stories?
A: I would love to share a little bit about each of these spring-y titles with your readers.
Here’s the scoop on Little Ewe, accompanied by the spread that is hands-down the favorite at school visits (because it’s when Little Ewe is FOUND!!!)
Little Ewe would rather jump on logs and investigate spider webs than follow the shepherd when he calls. But what happens when she gets lost? How will she find her way home? Told in whimsical rhyme, this humorous counting book for our littlest ones is a delightful reminder that, like a loving parent, our Shepherd will find us and care for us, even when we wander from the path.
And here’s the scoop on Bunny Finds Easter (accompanied by the book trailer the publisher create which gives a sense of the book’s bouncy fun.
In this bouncy rhyming board book, Bunny is determined to find out if Easter is all about special breakfasts, chocolate bunnies and fancy new bonnets, or if it might be about a little bit more. Bunny Finds Easter is a charming introduction to the real meaning of Easter.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who's looking to write faith-based books?
A: My advice for those looking to write faith-based books would be to first consider core faith-messages you hope to capture and share through your writing. Next, with those core themes in mind, brainstorm how you want to share those with children through the format of a picture book or board book. To give you a sense of this market, be sure to spend time reading what’s already out there. Then, write a good story using all that tools of the trade including character development, a compelling story-arc, kid-friendly word choice, and more. I’d also suggest finding a group of faith-sharing critique buddies so you can read each other’s work offer feedback during the creation process. Finally, remember, good writing takes time and patience is a must in the publishing world.
Thanks again for joining us and sharing all your beautiful books with us, Laura! We can't wait to read them!
Spring into Storytime Giveaway!
Laura has offered to give one lucky reader a copy of My Tender Heart Bible!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win, leave a comment below and let Laura know why you can't wait to check out her book!
The winner will be chosen on or about Tuesday, 4/2!
*Note: books will be shipped in the US only.
Bonus: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of two (2) 15-minute Zoom Ask Me Anything chats with Heather and Lynne Marie!
About Laura Sassi:
Bio: Laura Sassi has been a teacher, homeschool mom, children’s ministry director and more, but her passion is for telling stories in rhyme and prose. She is the author of nine books for young children. She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing messages of kindness, comfort, and faith through story at school visits, church gatherings and other events.
For more about Laura, visit her at the below links:
To purchase Laura's books, or to leave a review for them, click here.