The Power of Pretend: Chicago Mom’s Free Children’s Book Takes Kids On An Adventure at Home

Virtual Hug For The World Book Cover

Sheltered in place with her husband and two young sons, Chicago mom Amanda Perlyn Jackson has been facing the same struggle shared by parents across the globe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic—juggling childcare, homeschooling, and working from home while also trying to help keep kids connected to the world around them. An executive in the hotel industry, Jackson is reminded daily of the impact the virus has had on our ability to travel. This inspired her to create the journey of a lifetime for her kids—albeit a pretend one: Virtual Hug for the World is a new book that shares that story.

An artist in her free time, Jackson decided to channel the whirlwind emotions engendered by the pandemic into a creative outlet—one that would inspire her children and others while supporting relief efforts. She quickly set to work writing and illustrating as her sons, Bennett and Sawyer, looked on, watching themselves come to life on the pages of their mom’s book.

Amanda Perlyn Jackson and Sons
Amanda Perlyn Jackson and her sons.

“My heart is with everyone deeply affected by the virus,” Jackson says. “Seeing the world through children’s eyes has helped bring levity to a tough time. The goal was to create a positive and playful story that inspires others to share kindness and connect with the world.”

Set in a Chicago home where two young brothers are quarantined, the boys decide to take an imaginary journey around the world. Visiting seven continents in seven days, they have an adventure of a lifetime, learn about culture, and meet new friends.

virtual hug for the world children's book
Some of the drawings from Virtual Hug for the World.

Here’s an excerpt from Virtual Hug for the World:

For every boy and every girl there is something you can do.

Be kind to others and send love from me and you.

When you go to bed at night and are tucked in snug,

Say a prayer for the world and give it a virtual hug!


virtual hug for the world children's book
The front cover for Amanda Perlyn Jackson’s new children’s book: A Virtual Hug for the World.

The digital book is free on the website, but readers are invited to make a donation to support one of three Chicago charities providing critical support during the pandemic:

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly

More from Better:

Editor in Chief of Better, Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native who’s worked for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine in NYC and for various book publishers in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two sons, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics, always counting down the days to their next Disney vacation. Her favorite nonprofits to support include organizations focused on environmental conservation and combatting climate change, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Shedd Aquarium. Follow her on Instagram: @brookegmcdonald

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