- - Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Years before she was a best-selling author, podcast host and public speaker, Annie Downs was an elementary public school teacher who dreamed of one day being able to speak into her students’ lives in a faith-filled way. She recently sat down with the Washington Times’ Higher Ground to discuss how her dreams have been realized with the release of her second children’s book, “So Happy to Know You!

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“I taught in public school and it mattered a lot to me to still be able to speak into their lives,” Ms. Downs said. “And so, when I started writing kids’ books, that was kind of the dream of like, can I write kids’ books that can sit in a public school classroom and anywhere else, but still kind of have a Gospel thread to them?”

The beauty of “So Happy to Know You!” is that it gives an A-to-Z look at character qualities that make kids (and adults) unique. In a culture where identity has become an increasingly important topic for young people, the author hopes her book will help children love others for who they are, while also learning to love themselves for who God created them to be.

“[The book] is this story of how would we feel differently if we actually believe that God made us on purpose, that the way we were made is who we were meant to be, and that the most unique things about us are the best things about us,” she explained. “And so, that’s really where it came from was wanting to serve kids and remind them that who they are is who God meant them to be.”

The balance of including a strong Gospel theme without alienating families who aren’t believers is a tightrope Mrs. Downs was committed to walk from the beginning. And seeing her efforts rewarded, including getting approval from public school teachers and librarians across the country, has made it all worthwhile.

“So I get to write these books that have, particularly for kids, that have a thread of Gospel in it, and then they take it home and the parent goes, ‘Let’s see if this author’s written anything else,’” she noted. “So hopefully books like this are a doorway that opens and then the parents and the kids go, ‘Oh, this author has a lot of resources that could tell us directly about Jesus.’”

In fact, that’s exactly what happened when Ms. Downs began reaching out to her former students hoping to share the book with them and recultivate the relationships that she started all those years ago. Those former fourth and fifth graders are now in their 30s and many have started their own families and are embracing her work, which she says is an answer to prayer.

“Multiple students have said that it brought tears to their eyes, just remembering our time together and that I would think to send [the book] to them. And it’s just been really, really special,” she said. “And my hope is the resurgence of a relationship where I can be really forward about who I am as a faith person in a way that I was respectfully not doing 20 years ago when I was their public school teacher.”

Watch the whole interview below:

Marissa Mayer is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in Christian Post, The Daily Signal, and Intellectual Takeout. Mayer has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Arizona State University.

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