Airdrie author writes inspiring children’s book
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 11:33 am
Airdronian Katie Mackrory, 27, is using a University of Calgary (U of C) school project to help foster understanding and respect for other’s beliefs and cultures in her children’s ebook Little Tommy Big Beliefs.
The book started as a school project for the U of C social worker student, who was told she was to do a presentation to the class on religious oppression. As a result of the project Mackrory penned her first book, which is about a curious little boy named Tommy who is grocery shopping with his mom when he comes across people wearing various religious symbols. Tommy’s mom helps him understand why people wear the symbols and how the symbol is a part of that faith.
“The purpose of the book is that people can be different but you can still love them and show them respect,” Mackrory said.
The book, which is written and illustrated by Mackrory, is geared towards toddlers to age eight and includes information on Catholic, Buddhist, Aboriginal and atheist beliefs to name a few.
Tommy encounters a cross, a kipa, a turban, and ideas of karma along his journey and is taught to show love to others by simply waving, saying hi or smiling.
“It’s a simple story but it’s mostly to be informational or educational,” the author said.
The book has been fact-checked by members of each religious and spiritual community included in the book to make sure the information and illustrations presented are true to the beliefs they depict.
Mackrory said the idea behind the book came from two fronts: the Facebook group Airdrie Moms, which Mackrory is a part of due to her experience as a child youth councillor, and comments made by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
She said she asked Airdrie Moms members if they had ever come across a children’s book geared on informing others on cultures and encouraging acceptance.
When the group members couldn’t think of anything, Mackrory said, “why not make one?”
Her inspiration from Nenshi came when she heard his reaction to Quebec’s proposed legislation that would reportedly ban public servants from wearing religious symbols. Nenshi responded by inviting Quebecers facing the ban to come to Calgary where Nenshi said they would be accepted.
Mackrory said she thinks kids can be “tainted by their communities” if that community doesn’t instill values of acceptance and respect.
“Misinformation can create a lot of confusion for kids,” she added.
The book, which is available at smashwords.com, is $4.99, and all the proceeds from the book will go towards the U of C’s on-campus multi-faith hub, the Faith and Spirituality Centre. The Centre provides students, staff and faculty faith-based programs, events and support from various faith traditions.
“I don’t know why I should get money from other people’s beliefs,” Mackrory said of the donation.
“It’s not a fabricated story, it’s sharing other people’s truths. I want to give back to their communities.”
Aside from giving the proceeds from the book to the multi-faith centre, Mackrory said she has two other goals for the book: to get the right information to kids at a young age and act as a political statement for the future social worker.
“This is how we want our communities to look,” she said of the statement of accepting other’s beliefs.
“We want people to feel comfortable in their community.”
Mackrory moved from Calgary to Airdrie in August of last year and is in the third year of her program at the U of C.
She has dedicated the book to the graduating class of 2015, which is when Mackrory will graduate, because she said her classmates have all been very supportive of the book.
“I think (the book) can create a change in the future if kids know all the facts,” Mackrory said.
For more information on the book, visit facebook.com/littletommybigbeliefs or smashwords.com and search Little Tommy Big Beliefs.