Critically-acclaimed and Gold Mom’s Choice Award-winner Nadine Haruni, creator of Freeda the Frog & Her New Blue Family, appropriately tackle the diversity topic—perfect for kids to absorb, enjoy and learn. We all know how complex the stories are about divisiveness. Here, Haruni is a proud mom of a blended family and understands first-hand how the different colors of Freeda and her frog neighbors have nothing to do with the same heart that beats in them all.
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Nadine.
Tammy Reese: What intrigued your passion for diversity and inclusion discussions?
Nadine Haruni: I am part of a blended family and that inspired the creation of my books, which are designed to be a helpful tool to open up these conversations with kids.
My kids and I have been through all of the situations covered in my books, so I figured that there would be many other families out there who could relate to some of these topics as well.
I didn’t know how to open up some of these conversations, so I am hoping that they can help other parents who are in the same boat. This is a particularly relevant topic in the news, so these books will hopefully help open up a conversation between kids and their parents/ teachers.
Tammy Reese: Describe Freeda the Frog & Her New Blue Family book in 3 words?
Nadine Haruni: Families look different.
Tammy Reese: What impact did you set out to make with the book?
Nadine Haruni: I am hoping that these books will become part of the recommended curriculum in all elementary schools. Garden State Equality had asked me to design a lesson plan for the 5th book in the series, Freeda the Frog & The Two Mommas Next Door, as it is part of their recommended elementary school books for LGBTQ+ inclusivity lessons. I am hoping to eventually design lesson plans for the other books as well.
These books are meant to help kids who are in these families or going through these situations feel more comfortable and accepted. They are also designed to remind kids that families and parenting come in many different forms and that no two families look alike.
I hope that they help all kids to develop more empathy & understanding so that they can become more culturally aware & sensitive to a world beyond the one that they know. As the tagline on our website reads, the series has a goal of helping families of all species…one tadpole at a time.
Tammy Reese: Why is it important for readers to obtain the book?
Nadine Haruni: I think all of my books are great ways to open up a conversation with kids about these important topics in a very natural way.
The books are designed to reach kids at a young age when they are pretty much ‘open slates,’ and haven’t necessarily formulated their own opinions yet.
I am hoping they can help in undoing negative stereotypes and do their part to combat racism. Parents need to teach kids right from wrong at the beginning, and the topics discussed in these books are meant to be tools to help them to do that.
The books are leveled for the schools to align to National Educational standards but are meant to be enjoyed by children (and adults) of all ages.
Tammy Reese: What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Nadine Haruni: It is a great escape for me and feels very cathartic. I also enjoy the fact that the stories I am writing have important messages, and it has come easily to me to write about them since they involve topics that I can personally relate to.
Tammy Reese: What are you currently working on?
Nadine Haruni: I am currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel, which is separate and apart from the Freeda the Frog series. Once this is finished, I will start working on the next book in the Freeda the Frog series.
Tammy Reese: What was the last book you read that truly moved you?
Nadine Haruni: The Orphan Train by Christina Kline
Tammy Reese: What other books would you recommend our readers to obtain?
Nadine Haruni: Here are a few of the other favorites that I have recently read: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, One Day by David Nicholls, The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Tammy Reese: What else can we be on the lookout for from you?
Nadine Haruni: There will be several futures Freeda the Frog books, all tackling different types of families or addressing real-life situations that kids may go through. There may also be a sequel to the YA novel I am working on.
For more information, please visit www.freedathefrog.com.
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Multimedia Creative and Personality Tammy Reese is an award-winning Writer and Journalist. Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women's Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She is also the Founder and Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.