Mary Parry is an author from Chapel Hill expected to release her first book "Sadie McGrady, Leading Lady" this summer. Her focus is to inspire young girls to have not only political presence, but leadership presence throughout their lifetime.
Staff writer Alexis Hinnant spoke to Parry about her book and encouraging young women to involve themselves in politics.
The Daily Tar Heel: What inspired you to write the book?
Mary Parry: In 2010, my daughter was 10, and I was doing some volunteer work with President (Barack) Obama's campaign. She got to go with me and she saw how campaigns work. When she first asked me if she could run for president, she was really excited to learn that she could. I decided there were probably a lot of girls out there who hadn't considered it who should.,We need more women in office and what better way to help build toward that goal than inspiring girls, while they're young, to set that as a goal.
DTH: What is the book about?
MP: Sadie McGrady, Leading Lady is about a girl who decides she would like to run for president so she explores what it's like to run her own campaign. On the campaign trail she meets some obstacles and some challenges along the way. She has to overcome her nerves and self-doubt. She is interviewed by the media and she has to debate her opponent and he seems really big and tall and she's feeling small. When Sadie overcomes her self-doubt, the message there for girls is that when assuming leadership roles, you're going to find yourself in situations where you may not feel the most confident going into those situations, but that doesn't mean you should hold back.
DTH: Why did you think a book like yours needed to be written?
MP: The whole point of this book, for me, is to inspire more girls to run for office. Of our 100 U.S. senators today, only 20 of them are women. There is a large disparity, and I feel like women can bring a different voice to the conversation as we move forward in this country. I would love to see more girls set their sights on elected office.
DTH: What was your initial goal when writing this book?
MP: My initial goal was to create a book to fill this gap that I saw when my daughter Emma told me she wanted to run for president. You know when a parent says you can do something, a lot of times kids will think you might just be saying that because you're the parent. I really wanted some other resources to put on her bookshelf that weren't just me cheering her on. Especially since we haven't yet elected a woman president, I really wanted to create something, a book or resource, to help parents fill that gap for kids and say, "look, this is something you can and should do."
DTH: What is an interesting fact about the book?
MP: We wanted to use real girls and boys in the book versus illustrations, because we wanted to send the message that this is something you can aspire to. This book might be fiction, but your role could be real.
DTH: Why do you think young women have trouble imagining themselves as political leaders?
MP: There aren't enough prompts to help them. I think a lot of our books and media — if you look at what’s out there for girls to consume — there are lots of books promoting princesses and the color pink, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to see more girl empowerment in picture books. I also think there’s a gap as far as girls in main character roles. I think we should have more role models out there for girls telling them, "Yes, you can do this. You can run for office." I think even for adults, the thought of running for office is intimidating. There are a lot of different parts of that process that people aren't familiar with.
DTH: How has writing this book changed your own life?
MP: I think the powerful response from people who have already purchased the book has been really uplifting — we've sold more than 1,000 books. It's heartwarming and also reassuring to me that this is something that is needed, and there are other moms like me out there who wish there were more books like this, They are glad to see it and they're celebrating this book. It has been affirming and has made me want to really focus more on writing. I see a lot of opportunities for creating more empowerment books and messages for girls.
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