Deborah Fannie Miller: Children’s Author, Actor and Poet – by Allison Parder

Feelings can be difficult things to manage at the best of times, and for children they’re even more difficult and often confusing. Poet, actor, singer and children’s author, Deborah Fannie Miller has published two children’s books to help parents and children work together to take on feelings in a playful way.

Deborah’s book, Grappling with the Grumbles, was written after she encountered some head butting with her then eight-year-old daughter during their busy morning routine. Anger brewed between the two of them and it inspired Deborah to start the book. She leaned on her poetry and theatre back ground to come up with a playful way to tackle those feelings head on.

“I decided to do something that I hoped would be positive, which was to write about that morning in a way that illustrated what the anger looked like in vivid child language with wonderful colourful illustrations,” she said.

Both Grappling with the Grumbles and her second children’s book, Juggling the Jitters are written with both parent and child in mind. “I thought that if I approached the subject of anger in a humorous way that we could actually stop this disconnect with anger and then reconnect with each other. When we understand how anger affects our bodies, speech and minds then we’re able to create disconnect from those emotions,” she said.

Deborah held a seminar recently at the Calgary Baby & Tot show where she spoke to parents about how to handle situations with their children around anger and anxiety. She also regularly speaks at schools to children on the topics and always includes readings from both her books.

“I talked to parents at the seminar about the best ways we can talk to our children and how our emotions effect us through our bodies, voices and our thoughts,” she said, “the more we understand how anger and anxiety effect us…then we can really connect with our children when they’re going through overwhelming emotions as well.”

A third book is now in the works after plenty of feedback from parents and teachers. This one will be focusing on frustration at school. “I get so much feedback from teachers and students and parents after my presentations. It’s been an absolutely blissful experience for me speaking at these schools,” she said.

All of Deborah’s books are 100% Calgarian, including the publisher (Frontenac House) and illustrator (Danielle Bazinet.) You can catch her at the upcoming Calgary Children’s Festival where she will be reading from both of her books.