As full-time working parents to three young boys, Minnesota state senator Jeremy Miller and his wife, Janel, who works at Winona Health, seem to have their hands full in Winona with their family.
Still, they managed to co-author a children’s book together over the past year.
Back in March, Jeremy was in St. Paul for work and Janel was home in Winona taking care of the boys. The couple was talking on the phone about their days, about the kids, and about the books they’ve been reading to their boys. That’s when the idea came to them.
“We have shelves of books at home — many of them have a positive message, but many times it’s a very subtle message,” Jeremy said.
“We thought, is there something we could write that people could relate to, that could give our kids the tools to know good behaviors?” Janel said.
Eight months later, after reading multiple drafts to their very vocal 3-and-a-half-year-old Drew, who gave plenty of feedback, “Role Model Ricky’s Big Birthday Bash” was complete.
The book follows Ricky as he learns important life lessons about sharing, being respectful, having good manners and making good choices.
“He’s a role-model-type character that children can easily relate to — both girls and boys — and parents, caregivers and educators can certainly be proud of him,” Jeremy said.
As Janel said, the book is just “another tool in the parenting toolbox” to help kids become better role models and ultimately better citizens.
“Nowadays, there is so much negativity around anything in general, and we hope to bring positivity back and this book is a way to do that,” she said.
The book, which has just been published within the last month, is currently available online through various retailers. Jeremy said he hopes it will be for sale locally soon.
Eventually, Jeremy said he and Janel may look into doing more books on Role Model Ricky — but they don’t want to get ahead of themselves, and they certainly have enough keeping them busy.
For now, they will continue to use the book as a go-to for their three boys, who have been very engaged with it so far, they said.
“When the kids aren’t cooperating how they could be, we’ll ask, ‘What would Ricky do?’ or, ‘How would Ricky handle this?’” Janel said.
“And it seems to help — most of the time.”