Off the Shelf: Conversations with Authors of Children's Books

(Screen Shot from www.devinscillian.com)
(Screen Shot from www.devinscillian.com)

The Family Development Early Intervention team is always on the look-out for quality children’s books that help address some of the unique needs of military children.

The following is an interview with Devin Scillian, author of many children’s books, including H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet.  A man of many talents, Mr. Scillian is also a journalist, broadcaster, actor, musician, and songwriter.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What, if any, experiences do you and/or your book’s illustrator have with the military?

The military life was the only one I knew until I went to college. My father was a career Army officer so my childhood was spent moving all over the country and around the world, usually living on U.S. Army posts and installations. The illustrator, Victor, is the father of a United States Marine.

What made you decide to write this book? Was there some incident or experience with the military that inspired you?

I had written a few alphabet books for my publisher and they asked me if I had thought about writing one about the military. I mulled it over a little but then realized that I had not really seen too many books about military families, like the one in which I grew up. I thought that it would have been pretty nice if there had been just such a book back when I was young and my father was deployed to Vietnam. It was a real labor of love.

What message(s) do you hope that children and families receive as a result of reading your book?

I think the biggest idea I was trying to share was something my mother had very effectively instilled in my brother and me: As long as my father was serving his country that we, as a military family, were too. The sacrifices we made as a family were a kind of service to our nation. I think that was a powerful idea to me, one that I hope today’s military families understand and appreciate.

Have you received any feedback from military families after they read your book, and if so, what have they said?

Yes, I have received quite a lot of feedback. It has been wonderful. I have heard the very feedback that I hoped the book would inspire. I have heard from many families who found great joy in seeing their lives understood and explained in a book. I think the word “Honor” in the title has resonated with parents who identify powerfully with that same thought my mom instilled in us. It has been profoundly touching for me.

Do you have plans to write another book that focuses on the military? If so, what is the focus of that book and when might we expect to see it?

I have been kicking around several ideas, but I am still waiting for a story to take shape in my head.

Are there any other books for military children that you would suggest for young children?

Fortunately, there are many more books out there than there used to be. One that I think is particularly sweet is Night Catch by Brenda Ehrmantraut and Vicki Wehrman which is a lovely look at staying connected with a parent who is far away.

This post was edited by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and YouTube.

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