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Jill Biden Writes Children's Book About Military Family Struggles

Jill Biden

HILLEL ITALIE   01/17/12 11:14 PM ET   AP

NEW YORK — Jill Biden, after years of teaching English to college and high school students, has written a book of her own.

The wife of Vice President Joe Biden has completed a children's story, "Don't Forget, Nana, God Bless Our Troops," told from the point of view of granddaughter Natalie Biden and a tribute to soldiers and their families. Biden, called Nana by her granddaughter, has met with many military families and said she thought of doing the book as she realized how many people did not understand their experiences. The story is especially personal because son Beau Biden, Delaware's attorney general and a major in the state's Army National Guard, spent a year in Iraq.

"I really feel that you write your best about what you know best," Jill Biden, who taught in Delaware before moving to Washington, said Tuesday during a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press. "That's what I teach to my students, so I thought using my own experience would have a little more meaning and a little more heart to it."

The book will be published June 5 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and will be illustrated by Raul Colon, who has worked on stories by Frank McCourt and Libba Moore Gray. According to Simon & Schuster, "Readers will follow Natalie's experience as she learns to cope with missing her father and finds comfort in the kindness of members of her community, including teachers and neighbors and the strength and pride that she and her mother and brother felt from being part of a military family. The book will also include resources about what readers can do to support military service members and their families serving at home and abroad."

Biden said she came up with the title after putting Natalie to bed one night. They read some stories and said their prayers, and Biden got up to say goodnight. As she was leaving, Natalie said, "Don't forget, Nana, God bless our troops."

"It just shows how ingrained it is in them, that it is part of our family life," Biden said.

Biden is receiving no advance. She and the publisher said all net author proceeds are being donated to charities, to be determined, for military families. Biden was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, who has handled book deals for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

"Don't Forget" is the latest children's story from the Obama administration and the latest by a vice president's wife. Biden's immediate predecessor, Lynne Cheney, has written several books for young people about American history. President Obama's picture book "Of Thee I Sing," finished before he took office, came out in 2010.

Biden said she worked on her story for "a couple of months," discussing it with Natalie and even taping their conversations as she put together each scene. The vice president has pitched in, reading the book "several times," she said.

Jill Biden and Michelle Obama have made military families a special priority, co-founding the Joining Forces initiative that encourages support for families and even trying out some television acting. Obama appeared as herself on this week's episode of Nickelodeon's "iCarly," in which she praised the show's teen star, played by Miranda Cosgrove, for making a video for her father serving overseas. In 2010, Biden made a cameo on the Lifetime network's "Army Wives."

"It was a little daunting, something I've never done before," she said of "Army Wives," calling her TV work even more difficult than writing a book. "When I came into this job, I knew I had a platform. I said to my husband, `I will never waste that platform for one day.' I think issues come up that affect all Americans, and I think it's important that they hear from me."

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Filed by Eleanor Goldberg  |