ITALY — Mayme Onstad is a storyteller by nature. Her grandmother was a schoolteacher as was her mother, Mrs. Ethel, who rode a horse to the two schoolhouses she taught at in West Texas. Onstad heard her mother tell stories to her students and repeat those stories in her own home.
That inheritance of stories, combined with a love for children and for the Lord, has made the Italy resident into an author, who creates simple stories for children and about children. At the end of each book, she includes a theatrical version of the story, intended as a teaching tool.
The author of seven books has published her first work, “Urple Fishing,” and is in the process of publishing “Christmas Love.”
Onstad’s friend Tina Bohlman colorfully illustrates each text with images tailored to Onstad’s vision. For example, the children in “Urple Fishing” sport cowboy boots and button-down shirts, portraying kids from Texas.
Such details flow from the imagination of a woman who spent her childhood in the Texas Hill Country, reliant on the wildlife and her siblings for entertainment.
“I think being raised in the country gives you that ability of looking out and imagining things that could be,” Onstad said of her inspiration.
Many of the stories also have roots in childhood experiences and activities. “In My Marbles are My Marbles,” the children’s treasured possessions are marbles, and in “Urple Fishing,” the children spend time fishing at the river, details that are true to Onstad’s childhood.
The innocence of Onstad’s stories rests on deeper foundational principles found in the Holy Scriptures.
Onstad’s purpose in writing is “to teach children love and forgiveness,” qualities that are lacking in many children’s education. She said if children only read the Bible and learned the teachings of Jesus, things like bullying at school would not be problems.
“I believe you can put all the trouble starting in schools to taking the Bible out,” she said. “We are failing our kid’s (by not) teaching them the Bible.”
Onstad’s writing sets a mandate for other parents to step up their game. If the physical Bible cannot be brought into schools, then she said send it to school in the hearts of children. If parents are instructing their kids at home to walk in the ways of God, their kids will take what they have learned into their respective schools and change them for the better.
Moral lessons aside, Onstad is a shining example of determination. Though she was discouraged as a child and young woman from many ideas she wanted to pursue, writing was left open to her.
“I didn’t have anybody telling me I couldn’t do it,” she said.
Though writing comes easily, the publishing process is difficult to fund and navigate. She resolutely relies on God to provide when she seems discouraged, knowing that he has called her to teach children and will be faithful to see it completed.