The Chronicles of Narnia. Babysitter’s Club. Bunnicula. The Water Dancer. Americanah. Nothing to See Here. These are just a few of singer Amerie‘s all-time favorite books.
If you have followed the star over the years, you know that she is a bibliophile, starting “Amerie’s Book Club” in 2018, and publishing both an anthology and sci-fi trilogy series. In our conversation, held over Zoom, her backdrop is a mountain full of works neatly lined up on bookshelves, a mix of titles she’s read and some she’s looking forward to delving into. Some Deepak Chopra here, James Baldwin there. Whether she was reading them while traveling on tour or carving out time to read e-books from her local library when she’s not caring for son River, books are an important part of her life.
Fusing her love of novels with her role as a parent, as of March 28, 2023, Amerie officially became a children’s book author. She released a project called You Will Do Great Things from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group that was inspired by her journey into motherhood.
“I always wanted to write a picture book but I thought I would know what to say [in it] once I had a child. I thought that was what I needed for it to be authentic; for it to not be something that I was just guessing,” she tells ESSENCE. “I knew there was something that is so specific [to say] and I thought, I’ll know what to say once I’m in that position. It was true. Once I had my son I did know. I just realized so much how much children depend on us, but how the world is so fresh for them.”
The book is a “magical picture book” following a boy on an adventure through his imagination, tapping into his multicultural heritage and trying new things on his journey. It was also important to the author to provide a story that her son could open and see himself represented.
“I had the experience of not having enough books in which I could turn the page and my son could see himself reflected in those pages. We have books with so many people and characters in them but I wanted more books where he could see himself and they weren’t about his skin color or anything like that. Just a magical book, an experience, an adventure…I wanted him to see that,” she says.
She’s also working on music for a new project and considering doing an intimate tour to celebrate her debut album All I Have. But she admits that family has changed how she goes about prioritizing her passions and the everyday. The “go go go” lifestyle she was once so accustomed to was no longer sufficient.
“You can have a balance. It’s weird because sometimes people think, ‘Oh they’re having a child…I guess they’re not doing that anymore.’ But you can still be doing it, just in a different way,” she says. “You do have to change your process if you want to be there to nurture your child and do all those things. When you have a child, it puts in perspective, this is your time, time is finite and you have to work around some things, but you also have to balance how present you want to be. What do you want to give and what is most important? Prioritize.”
Music is still coming though. But as is the message in her children’s book, for Amerie, family is everything.
“I do think, ultimately, family is the most important thing. If you have children, if you don’t have children, you have parents, brothers and sisters or you have your found family,” she says. “Whatever we do in this life, it’s not going to keep you in the same way as love and family. “
Check out our full conversation above and check out You Will Do Great Things, including the audiobook, available now wherever books are sold.