5 Questions with DDSB Staff Author Ashley Underwood

Posted On Thursday April 28, 2022
Ashley and Frankie
Ashley Underwood and her son Frankie.

The Durham District School Board (DDSB) is proud to be home to many diverse, skilled, talented, and creative staff across the District. This multi-part “5 Questions With…” series will highlight the success that DDSB staff have accomplished in a variety of industries.

Ashley Underwood is a Grade 1 teacher at Valley View Public School in Pickering. Earlier this year, Ashley self-published her first children’s book titled I Love You, For YOU, about a young boy with a big imagination. The main character in the book is based on Ashley’s son, Frankie. In the story, Frankie make-believes being a hockey player, a doctor, a gardener, and much more. In each adventure, Frankie’s mom is there to remind him that underneath all of the play and pretending, loving himself is what truly matters.

We spoke with Ashley about publishing her first book, her creative process, and hopes for the future.

Q. What inspired your book I Love You, For YOU?

It was a busy morning, and Frankie was doing what seemed like every activity in the house. He would run around dressing up like a firefighter, putting out fires like his Grandad or tending to his garden of carrots and strawberries in the backyard. After that, I started writing down the activities he did throughout the day, all the things he came up with while pretending and using his imagination. These moments of play started to unfold into positive self-talk about loving yourself and affirming how smart, brave, and strong you are. I wanted to recreate this feeling to share with other parents and children, about imagination, discovery, and self-love.

Q. What message do you hope audiences take with them after reading I Love You, For YOU?

I want to share the feeling of warmth and ambition that comes when cuddling up and sharing a book about creating a world with limitless possibilities. The story connects creativity and discovery with the important message that children are loved no matter who they choose to be. It feels amazing to be able to share this message with other little ones, parents and those who love them.

Q. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors or illustrators who are considering publishing their work?

If you are thinking about publishing your work and getting your ideas out there, you already have the skills to do so. The hardest part is deciding to write or even start writing. Begin by setting short, specific goals that feel doable and then create time in your schedule to make it happen. Your book and ideas will come together before you know it. It really is the most beautiful feeling holding that printed book in your hands. 

Publishing a children’s book was a goal of mine, but I needed some help to get there. It can feel overwhelming so don’t hesitate to ask for help. I recommend joining a writing community and connecting with other like-minded people to get you started on your writing journey. This makes all the difference.

Q. What’s next for you in the world of storytelling?

I love being creative and using theatrics to tell heart-warming stories of imagination and discovery. My second children’s book - a continuation from the first - is set to be released later this summer.

Join Frankie, Isla, and their new friends as they embark on a journey exploring their very own backyard in, Backyard Explorer. Frankie’s new group of friends will introduce readers to a world of nature-loving, bug-hugging, dig-in-the-dirt kind of fun, where exploration is encouraged, and questions are answered. The reader is invited into this world where they can glimpse nature’s most magnificent creations, in a story that includes Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) activities that children can try at home as they explore their own backyards.

Q. Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

I Love You for YOU is available on Amazon.ca. I look forward to connecting with you and continuing to share the stories of Frankie and his friends as they dive deep into exploring their imagination. Join me on Twitter, (@Mrs_Underwood22), as I share more information about the book, teaching, and STEM activities for learners of all ages.