Come behind the scenes and join us for the first of our author interview series where we chat to authors about their books and their author journey. Mark Restaino is a successful children's author with six books under his belt and today he talks to us about author experiences and his latest book Jesus, Do You Want to Be My Friend?
Tell us about your book?
My newest children's book is titled, "Jesus, Do You Want to Be My Friend?" The book is comprised of prayerful questions, Bible verse responses, and images of Jesus Christ as a playful child alongside Mary and Joseph.
Why did you want to write this story?
I wrote this story so that children and parents could grow closer to Christ by giving them permission to ask Jesus some difficult questions. Questions such as, "Jesus, will you provide for me?", "Jesus, do you hear me?", and "Jesus, can you heal me?"
I also wanted to create a story that depicted Christ as a little child so that children could see themselves being friends with Jesus. How many children have adult friends? If we only depict Jesus as an adult, it could be an obstacle to a child's relationship with Christ.
Conversely, this story gives children the ability to imagine Jesus as a fun friend that they can play and talk with.
What's been the best reaction from a reader so far?
I enjoyed reading Amazon reviews from at least two adult readers that said that they found themselves meditating on the words and images in the book and used the story as a type of spiritual devotional. While this is a children's book, I wrote it so parents would get a lot out of it as well, and I'm glad that the story seems to be doing just that.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes to me while I'm thinking about how I would communicate certain complexities of the faith in simpler ways to my family, friends, or youth group students. Since this thought process happens mostly in times of prayer and reflection, I have written many stories that are and are yet to be published on silent retreats.
What's the most fun part of being an author?
For me, the most fun part of being an author is the creative process. I feel that God is communicating to me in a special way as I think about and write the stories. I also love receiving the sketches and the final full color images from my illustrator; his artwork really brings the story to life.
What's your tip for parents to encourage reading?
Read everyday to your children and make sure that they see you reading on your own as well.
What's your favourite children's book of all time and why?
I love reading humorous children's books and rhyming children's books to my two daughters, but my favorite children's book of all time would have to be "The Tale of Three Trees" because it made me feel something a children's book had never made me feel before- what some might call a "God moment"- a warming of the heart, tear-filled eyes, and a sense of God's presence.
And as I write these stories, it is my hope and prayer that my books will offer this same "God moment" experience to children and their parents.
Mark Restaino is a full time youth minister living in the Chicagoland area with his wife and two daughters. He had the idea for his first story while on a retreat with his youth group students. His books focus on ways to symbolically share the faith and gospel message whilst capturing readers' hearts and minds. You can find out more about Mark and collect a free digital copy of one of his books at his website. Or you can keep in touch by following him on Facebook or Instagram.
Where to Next?
We hope you enjoyed this insight into Mark Restaino's life as an independent author and his creative process. Our children are fascinated with these behind the scenes stories and we hope the children in your life are too. If you'd like to keep in touch with our books, see more author stories and get some great goodies, do sign up to our newsletter. You can also see our fabulous books in our shop. Plus of course, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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