Mercer professor weaves counseling themes into award-winning children’s books

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Dr. David Lane headshot
Dr. David Lane

What began as a way for a Mercer University professor to appease a restless toddler during a long car ride many years ago has led to him becoming an award-winning children’s author.

Dr. David Lane, professor of counseling in the College of Professional Advancement, and his wife were reading to their son in the car when it got dark, and they could no longer see the words on the page.

“We started making up stories for the next two hours of the drive to keep him entertained as we went down the road,” he said. “And I’m thinking, ‘You know, why don’t I write some of this down while it’s fresh on my mind?’”

Since then, Dr. Lane has authored seven children’s books, as well as an educational curriculum that includes five stories for children.

Illustration of an older man sitting on a bench with a young boy.
“The Banana Farm” book cover

In April, he received awards from The BookFest for two of his books. “The Banana Farm,” published in 2021, received a silver medal for children’s fiction in the family category, and “My Dog Can’t Jump,” published in 2020, received an honorable mention in the picture and board books category.

As with Dr. Lane’s other books, “The Banana Farm” and “My Dog Can’t Jump” both have counseling themes.

“The Banana Farm” is about trust and loving sacrifice. In the book, a young boy living during the Depression contemplates the best way to use a dime he finds on the ground, and his family misunderstands his decision.

“It’s a story about being misunderstood and standing up for yourself, wrapped around a loving gesture of self-sacrifice,” Dr. Lane said.

“My Dog Can’t Jump” teaches unconditional love and acceptance through the story of a boy who adopts a shelter dog who can’t seem to do anything right.

“The dog has a number of problems, but the little boy loves him just like he is,” Dr. Lane said.

The book also was a finalist in the 2021 Feathered Quill Book Awards in the children’s picture books category, as well as a finalist in the 2021 American Fiction Awards in the children’s fiction category.

“One of the things that I would like to be able to do is make those ideas more accessible to people who may not have access (to counseling) or may not even need it,” Dr. Lane said. “Understanding people’s imperfections, accepting people for who they are, knowing sacrificial love and overcoming your fears — those kinds of things are just good themes for everybody to understand and have access to.”

Illustration of a boy hugging a white dog
“My Dog Can’t Jump” book cover

“The Banana Farm” and “My Dog Can’t Jump” were illustrated by Caleb McBee, and the visual elements help draw children into the story, Dr. Lane said.

“Then, the message of the text matches the pictures, so it leaves a lasting impression, and it’s easily understood through both art and word,” he said.

Dr. Lane authored his first children’s book, “Gold Stone,” with his wife, Dr. Donna Lane, adjunct professor of counseling in Mercer’s College of Professional Advancement. The book explores a character’s trauma, and through the story, readers can learn how to unravel their own.

The couple wrote it after Dr. David Lane worked extensively in Haiti, providing training in trauma assessment and care following the 2010 earthquake. Through that work, he developed a model of narrative therapy.

“The idea is that you write and rewrite your story, and you determine how the story’s going to end — where does it go from here?” he said. “So, I get to reauthor my life. If I’m having problems, I get to reauthor my own story.”

Dr. Lane’s other books include “Sofas Only Come Out at Night,” “Beware the Booger Bear,” “God Knows All about You” and “Where is God?” He co-authored the latter two books with his wife.

The books are available at online booksellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart.

 

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Jennifer Falk is a digital content specialist at Mercer University. She creates and maintains written and multimedia content for primary University web pages. She collaborates with various schools and departments to ensure timely and consistent web page content is maintained. She also examines web data and analytics to drive content creation decisions.