The Oscar-nominated actor and bestselling author's book will empower kids to stand up against bullying.
Taraji P. Henson is stepping back into the publishing world, this time with a children's book with an empowering message.
The Oscar-nominated actress and mental health advocate told PEOPLE exclusively that her new children’s book, You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) will be published this year by Zonderkidz, an imprint of HarperCollins. The book will come out on June 18, 2024.
Henson has been vocal about her own mental health struggles in the past. Her Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation aims to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health in the Black community and with this new book, she's aiming to help children who may be experiencing bullying because they're uniquely themselves.
“Mental health struggles can start even in childhood and oftentimes it begins with being bullied," Henson says in a statement exclusive to PEOPLE. "This book isn’t just about bullying though—it’s about how children all have something different about them, and being different is what makes them oh so very special.”
The book, which is illustrated by Paul Kellam, tells the story of the quirky and stylish Lil TJ's first day of school. When she arrives, she realizes she's standing out in all the wrong ways. Her classmate Beau begins teasing her, which fills Lil TJ with anxiety. But when she recalls some important words of wisdom from her Grandma Patsy, she figures out how to make new friends and help someone else along the way.
With her new kids book, Henson is hoping to empower kids to be kind to one another and deal with their own anxieties. She intends her new book to promote mental wellness and kids' socialization skills, as well as the importance of standing in their own uniqueness and choosing friendship over bullying.
“So You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) is for the kids who feel different. This book is for the parents who want their kids to accept differences. And this book is for the kids and families who’ve encountered hard times because of differences," Henson says. "I can’t wait to see the many conversations my book starts in homes and classrooms everywhere!”
Henson recently starred in The Color Purple and also appeared in award-winning films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Hidden Figures and on shows like Abbott Elementary and Empire. She published her memoir Around The Way Girl in 2017.
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“We are so proud of this book and feel that it’s not just a fun story, but an essential tool for teaching empathy, resilience and self-love,” said Megan Dobson, vice President and publisher of Zonderkidz. “Our hope is that this will become a conversation-starter about mental wellness, an important lesson in friendship and handling tough social situations and a testament to the importance of standing proud in one’s own uniqueness.”
You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) will be published on June 18, 2024.
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