As a political activist, former political candidate, armed forces veteran and political columnist (for the Pittsburgh Current) Aryanna Berringer spends a lot of time studying, following, learning and discussing politics.
She’s also a mother of three and some of those political discussions happen with and around her children. That conundrum led Berringer to write a new children’s book, My Place in the World. Illustrated by Liz Beatty, the story follows young Atlee (based on Berringer’s daughter, Atlee) as she explores to find her place in the world. No spoilers, but the journey takes her all over the world and leads to a showdown with the orangest man in America over ownership of a very special house.
Berringer talked to the Current about the onus for the book and the need to talk to kids about what’s going on in the world.
Where did the story come from?
I had just ended my campaign for Lieutenant Governor and for the first time in awhile, I got to put my daughter Atlee to bed and read her a story. When I finished, I turned out the light and she said, “one more.” And I thought, I’m not turning the lights back on so I made up this story and she really liked it. I went downstairs and told my husband about it and he said, “you need to write that down. It’s a book.” I agreed because there aren’t a lot of books out there about how to talk to your kids about politics.
Do you think your kids are into politics more than others?
We have political discussions at the dinner table. In 2016, my two oldest had a lot of discussions about Hillary vs. Bernie. Camryn backed Hillary and Donovan was with Bernie. I kept my opinion out of it and I watched them develop their own arguments for their candidates. And then Donovan ran for and won a spot on student council. He actually became the first member of this family to win an election [laughs].
There will be a launch party for My Place in the World at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at De Fer Coffee and Tea
2002 Smallman St., Strip District aryannaberringer.com
How was the collaboration with your illustrator, Liz Beatty?
I wanted to find an artist from Pittsburgh. In fact, we are even having the book printed here to keep the money in Pittsburgh. I wanted Atlee to be mirrored in the book and I sent Liz a picture and she drew her perfectly, right down to the yellow boots she was wearing in the picture. I gave her creative control on the illustrations because I wanted her to help me through the process. The beautiful images you see are from her mind. Although I did tell her she could make the President a little more orange.
Any future plans for an Atlee series?
We are going to see how this one goes. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the Women and Girls Foundation. But it’s not about the money, I want this story to be told. In this political time we live in, it’s relevant.