Cherry Hill author seeks to bring children closer to faith in a higher power
Paula Garcia Taveras, whose children’s book, Phoenix the Brave Bird, was released on Oct. 31, is a resident of Cherry Hill. Her writing is focused on helping children learn to make friends with God through colorful, imagery-laden stories. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Taveras lives with her son, Alejandro, and plans to write more books to help today’s youth grow up with strong compassionate values. She spoke with The Sun regarding a number of topics related to her life, her writing, faith and importance of providing children with the solid foundations to be well-rounded adults.
You’re a native of the Dominican Republic. Talk a bit about your background, family, education.
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital. I have a younger brother and a younger sister, and since I am the oldest, that immediately made me lead by example. I attended the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña (Unphu) where I obtained a degree in hotel management.
In the brief biography on your author and book page, it says you got your start when a local paper announced a children’s literary contest revolving around “The Lion King.” Why did you decide to enter?
I decided to participate in the contest because reading was one of my favorite things to do during my childhood. I wondered that if I was the one creating the fantasy, what could I teach to others through my own writing? We had to create a new adventure based on the original book. I just recreated the same story, but I included some illustrations.
Name any influences or mentors you had which inspired you to write when you were younger.
I don’t recall any books from my childhood that entertained me, while also leaving an impression or important message to implement during the course of my life. However, some very well-known Latin writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paolo Coehlo, Isabel Allende and others have definitely been an influence on me. Roald Dahl wrote the book for my favorite movie, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
How long ago did you move to Cherry Hill and what attracted you to the area?
I moved from Center City Philadelphia to Cherry Hill 13 months ago, because I was looking for a peaceful place and be relaxed after a long day. I love the neighborhood, I love the people, and everything the neighborhood offers.
Is there a specific incident, action, or dream that clicked and made you decide that your writing should be geared toward children in a faith or religious context?
Authors, most of the time, write about a real topic and we decorate that reality with a little bit of fiction to make the reading more interesting. I had an experience similar to the one I described in my book. I notice how children observe and adopt the actions of adults, and because our children are adults of the future we need to continue impressing them with moral values such as love, friendship, forgiveness and faith.
Why do you believe it is important for children to learn these lessons about confidence, faith, belief and a higher power?
My goal is to contribute to children’s literature with a book that not only keeps them entertained while reading it, they also can learn a positive message and implement it in the course of their lives.
Taveras’ book is available in both English and Spanish versions. For English, visit: https://www.austinmacauley.com/us/book/phoenix-brave-bird, and for Spanish, https://www.amazon.com/F%C3%A9nix-el-P%C3%A1jaro-Valiente-Spanish/dp/1724796348.