For most Wellesley students, spring means warm weather and the additional stress from fast-approaching deadlines. But for one student, the season brings an additional exciting opportunity that is unique, even within the Wellesley community. JoAnn Jung ’20 and her older sister Sarah, a graduate student at The College of New Jersey, are in the process of publishing their first children’s picture book. Titled “Daddy’s Love For Me,” the story follows a young girl’s journey in realizing the different ways a parent may express their love to their children.
“It was one night in January when my sister, Sarah, was up late at night just thinking about her favorite memories of important people in her life. When she began thinking about her favorite memories with our dad, a particular memory came to her mind — when he came into her room before leaving for work early in the morning and kissing her on the forehead and when he draped a blanket that had fallen over her while she was sleeping. That memory inspired her to create a draft of the story on her phone about our dad, and it spiraled into the story that we have now,” Jung said of the origin of the story.
Over winter break, the Jung sisters began drafting their story and reaching out to publishers before deciding on Mascot Books, an independent hybrid-publishing company which combines aspects of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. The company, which was founded in 2003, provides services such as printing and distribution to authors who must then pay for the upfront publishing costs; in exchange, the authors keep 85 percent of the royalties earned from their books, as opposed to the five percent of royalties typical of most other publishing company contracts.
Indeed, the publishing company’s support for books that tackle difficult issues for children compelled the Jung sisters to choose the company to produce their book. “My sister and I discovered Mascot Books…a couple months back. We came across a book called ‘Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce,’ which was a picture book published by Mascot Books. The book beautifully and sensitively portrayed a family going through a divorce with appropriate language for children, and we were impressed by Mascot Book’s support for books that articulate delicate yet important topics for children,” Jung said.
The Jung sisters hope that with their book, they can add to a growing compendium of literature that feature Asian characters. Currently, less than four percent of children’s literature in the U.S. feature Asian characters. Jung shared the personal significance her contribution contains, saying, “Growing up, I didn’t have much exposure to Asian characters in the books I read. Especially as an immigrant who came to the U.S. from South Korea, I remember feeling like I could not relate with many of the characters in the books I read at my local library, so I often opted to select books that featured animals.”
The story itself tackles a rooted belief common in many Asian families, in which many young people realize much later in life their own parents’ different ways of expressing love. Jung says that the story will both “challenge young children to recognize that parents how love in a myriad of ways and that there may be legitimate barriers that prevent parents from showing love in the fullest form to their children.”
The Jung sisters have started a GoFundMe campaign, an online fundraising platform that allows users to initiate campaigns that can be shared on social media and encourage their friends, families and even strangers to donate to their specified cause. As of this writing, their campaign has raised about 40 percent of their goal in eight days and is a trending campaign with 109 Facebook and Twitter shares. Of the outpouring of support from within and beyond the Wellesley community, Jung says, “We are thankful for the amount of support from people who have donated, and have been very encouraged by so many who are willing to help. I was very surprised to find that there are so many in the Wellesley community (and beyond), that were willing to help and support our book.”
Jung specifies in the GoFundMe campaign that the proceeds from the book will be donated to Charity Water, a non-profit organization that brings safe and clean drinking water to people in developing countries. Jung and her sister were encouraged to donate to this organization because of its message and approach: “We know that access to clean water is not only a basic need for survival but also contributes to people’s access to education, income, and health. We were impressed by the organization’s holistic perspective in providing water to others, that solidified our decision to donate to this organization.”
The themes of family are woven throughout their book, “Daddy’s Love For Me,” and for the Jung sisters, that holds further significance having worked on this project together, their biggest collaboration yet. “My sister and I have both been passionate about education as long as we can remember, so to publish a book that will hopefully advance this field is something we are ecstatic about,” Jung shares.