Interview with Mom’s Choice Award-Winner Janice Pratt

Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

Today we’re delighted to have with us Janice Pratt, yoga instructor extraordinaire and children’s book author. Her Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, Amaleigha Makes a New Friend, helps kids understand that friendship extends beyond borders—and that people from different places have a lot in common. Children also discover that having a pen pal can not only be a lot of fun—it can be highly instructive!

MCA: Janice, we’re so glad that you could join us today. To start off the interview, why don’t you tell us about yourself?

I have worn many hats throughout my life but have found that I am most passionate about kids. I have been a children’s librarian, an elementary school teacher, a kid’s yoga teacher, and now a children’s author. I also have eight children in my family and 19 grandchildren. I am so blessed to have all these little people who have taught me so many important lessons.

Both of my companies have been in service to children. “Stories to Grow With” ( is a way for me to reach out and hopefully inspire children to dream big and set and achieve their goals. The main character in these stories is Amaleigha, who wholeheartedly wants to change the world one project at a time.

Omtastic Yoga ( is a yoga studio just for kids and families. We also help adults learn to teach yoga to children. The whole reason behind this business is to provide children with tools that help them handle the curves that life hands to them. I feel that if we learn as little people to handle tough situations with grace and compassion, then as adults we will continue to do the same.

Stories to Grow With grew out of the great inner wisdom that so many children have shared with me. In the stories I write, my goal is to encourage kids to follow their hearts and to make their dreams come true. I also hope that the children who find their way to my books will be inspired to change the world one small act of kindness and service at a time.

Besides writing and yoga, I love to be out in nature. I ski, hike, bike, and many times just stroll through the amazing landscapes where I live. I read books of all kinds, both fiction and non-fiction, and I love a good movie that moves me to tears!

MCA: Those are such wonderful goals! What was your path to becoming a writer like? What inspired you?

I remember taking many writing classes in my life, and each one prepared me to create the stories that I write. I learned about the craft. I learned about the heart of writing. And I learned that words have the power to change thoughts and actions.

I had my first short story published over 40 years ago and remember how proud I was of that accomplishment. Fast forward 40 years and my first picture book made its debut.  I don’t feel like I struggled over the writing but was simply inspired. I knew some way I wanted to inspire children to believe in what they could accomplish that would change the world. I am so proud that the three Amaleigha books are out in the world and are inspiring those who read them to be agents of change.

MCA: What was your inspiration for writing Amaleigha Makes a New Friend?

My amazing illustrator is Alina Kralia and she is Ukrainian. Amaleigha Makes a New Friend is about two students, one in the United States and one in Ukraine, who become pen pals. All is great and they are learning so much about each other until the war starts in Ukraine. Amaleigha’s pen pal, Vova, along with the other Ukrainian students, stop writing and Amaleigha’s class is worried. Amaleigha’s class decides to raise money to support families in Ukraine as a way to help their new friends. They are able to raise $1000 to help these families.

I, along with my publisher, will be donating money to the organization “Ukrainians of Colorado” to help those who may no longer be able to live in their home country.

MCA: Such a great effort to get behind. Please share with us the key lessons found in the book.

I hope that this story inspires compassion, empathy, and the willingness to learn about other cultures. The more we work together as a global community the more connection we will build. Hopefully, racism and discrimination will wither away one new friend at a time.

I hope that we, as humans, take time to find how we are alike instead of how we are different. I hope that as we learn about others, we will make lifelong friends and change the world through these friendships.

MCA: Can readers look forward to more Amaleigha stories?

I will have another Amaleigha story coming out in 2024 in the anthology Brave Kids 2: Short Stories to Inspire our Future World Changers, where Amaliegha will take on the city council in her town to keep the park that she loves from being turned into a parking lot. I am also thinking that in Amaleigha’s fourth adventure book, she will be hiking the Camino de Santiago. I have hiked two Caminos and they were both life-changing. I think they will change Amaliegha’s life, too!

MCA: We’ll certainly be looking out for Amaleigha’s next adventure! Thanks so much for being with us today.

You can learn more about Janice Pratt and her award-winning book, Amaleigha Makes a New Friend by visiting her MCA Shop pages.

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