A few years ago, Emily Assell of Sandwich and Lauren Copple of Marengo never thought of creating a book together, much less having their book series picked up by a publisher.
The sisters-in-law created the Generation Claimed children’s Christian devotional prayer book series. Assell is the author of the books and Copple is the illustrator.
Their first book, “You Are,” was self-published in 2017 and was republished with a new cover through Tyndale House Publishers in October. Their second book, “Tonight,” was released May 7. Their third book, “Chosen,” will be released next spring.
The books, published through Tyndale House Publishers, can be purchased online at Generation Claimed’s website.
“I’ve always been interested in creative writing and Lauren had just graduated college with a degree in graphic design and visual communication,” Assell said. “It was just an idea we had to put our gifts together. It took about a year to finish the first book.”
Each page of the book series features an endearment, declaration and Bible verse. One page of “You Are” reads, “My love, you are chosen. ‘I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you.’ John 15:16.”
The second book, “Tonight,” has a bedtime theme. One page reads, “Tonight, chosen one, your dreams will be sweet and without fear. ‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid. As you lie there, your sleep will be sweet.’ Proverbs 3:24.”
The artwork in the books features young animals and their parents. The first book has woodland animals such as foxes and deer, the second has arctic animals such as penguins and polar bears, and the third will feature jungle and safari animals.
“We wanted the books to have a design that would be different and modern, yet appeal to both children and adults,” Copple said. “People have sent us photos of the books decorating their room. … I created all of the artwork digitally, yet it still has the look of being hand-drawn.”
Assell first had the thought of writing a children’s book the summer of 2015 as she was lying down for a nap while planning a baby shower for another sister-in-law.
“I had the idea for a book of Bible verses that could be read to children,” Assell said. “My daughter was having a hard time sleeping, and I wish there was a book that could be positive and feature Bible verses. At the time, there wasn’t – and still aren’t – any other books like it out there. I was surprised that similar books didn’t already exist.”
In January 2016, Assell and her husband, Matt, were finishing Daniel’s Fast, a religious partial fast to draw closer to God. When she asked him, “What should we do next?,” he responded, “We should write a book.”
“I only told him once or twice about my idea of a children’s book; he was probably thinking of us writing an adult book,” Assell said. “I think part of you always thinks ‘someday.’ But I took it as a sign, a nudge. I started writing and reached out to Lauren for illustration. Our publication process was very much a miracle and the Lord leading us in the right direction.”
Shortly after the first book was self-published in 2017, Assell attended a Mothers of Preschoolers Christmas church sale as one of the vendors. After an internal debate, she stopped by Tyndale House Publishers’ booth to hand them her book. A few days later, she received an email from the head of children’s publishing who was interested in an interview and the possibility of publishing the book.
The sisters-in-law signed on with Tyndale for a three-book deal. Assell and Copple chose “Generation Claimed” as their company name and the name for their series of books as a statement of their goal.
“Our goal is to use the word of God to claim this generation for Christ and his kingdom,” Assell said. “Reading the word of God, direct verses from the Bible, has such a positive impact on kids’ lives.”
Copple said the books were designed in such a way that people of any age, from young children to parents and grandparents, can “get something from the books.”
“The pictures keep kids engaged, the words and verses are easy to understand, and the positivity of the words are applicable to everyone,” Copple said. “Even if you’re not a devout Christian or even a Christian, all parents want to say positive things to their children. Sometimes it’s hard to say things like, ‘my love, sweetheart, you’re a delight, you’re a gift.’ The book is an easy prompt to say those things to your kids.”
Assell and Copple said they “definitely have other ideas with the same theme” and plan to continue writing and illustrating more books in the future.
“Whether used to encourage children, help them fall asleep at night or just read for fun by adults, our books are for everyone, all ages,” Assell said. “Proverbs 18:21 says, ‘The tongue has the power of life and death.’ Words are powerful.”