A Must-Read Children's Book: Onyx Says: What If I Try?

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I recently discovered an incredible and important new book series by writer Lisa Sterne, called Onyx Says. The series is designed to help children develop coping skills while creating themselves. The first book, What If I Try, gave me goosebumps when I first read it, and I teared up to think of the powerful way that Onyx helps kids help themselves. It's an excellent and fun read, both inspiring and full of joy. Highly recommended! 

Sterne has a Master’s in Counseling from Monmouth University, NJ, and has spent the last two decades working with children and families in a variety of therapeutic capacities.

Without further ado, Lisa Sterne in her own words...

Please tell us about your new book, What if I try?
This book was written to acknowledge the self-doubt that kids often experience when they try something new. 

What inspired you to write this book?
After twenty years working with kids, I have accumulated lots of things I wanted to tell them. This book and those that will follow in the series consist the things I want children to know about feelings, life, confidence, doubt, and healthy risk-taking.

How can parents or caregivers best read and discuss this important book with kids they love?
This is a book to sit down on the floor with. It's fun to read and it gets laughs, so you'll want to be in a playful mood yourself. More than that, you'll want to be open to the things kids disclose when talking about insecurities, so this is not a book to be hurried through and then shut. It is a book for conversation and growing.

Kids can certainly relate to ALL the goodness and humor in this book. How did you choose which activities to write about?
When I sat down to write, the poems just came to me. I didn't plan out specific topics or activities, I just rolled with what came up for me. 

The illustrations are so much fun! Please tell us about your illustrator, Suzanne Whitaker...
Suzanne is a gem of an illustrator and muralist. She has been drawing for kids her entire career and knows how to catch their interest with a facial expression or mischievous look in a character's eye. 

I met her through social justice work, and our shared love for communicating with children made it obvious that we needed to create something together.

What's up next for you...and Onyx?
There are already three additional books in the series that have been written and polished. Onyx is going to learn how to stand up for himself when he is crying. He is going to have a conversation with his brain about how hard school can be and how to recover after a long day. And finally he is going to notice how the busyness of the world overwhelms us, and find the words to call out the grown-ups on their busyness too. 

How can readers find Onyx online?
Readers can visit @onyxsays on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.


All photos courtesy and copyright Lisa Sterne, used with permission