‘Run, Dad, Run!’ a storybook for fathers and sons to read together

Reading as a bonding activity

Reading as a bonding activity

By Cristina DC Pastor

Broadcast executive Joseph Jerome Francia is the occasional New York City visitor. Once or twice a year, he comes to town both for business and pleasure.

As Vice President and head of International Operations of GMA Network, Inc. in Manila, he visits NYC to check in on programming partners, and occasionally to accept television awards for his network.

Last year, he came to town for some recreation. He joined for the first time the NYC marathon, one of the largest in the world. Joseph is not exactly a running newbie, having participated in competitions in Chicago, Tokyo and Paris. But the NYC marathon has always been a yearning, and last year, he made sure it became reality. He was selected by the New York Road Runners as the flag bearer for the Philippine delegation during the Parade of Nations before the marathon.

His family joined him for his first NYC marathon. There’s nothing more motivating than knowing his wife, Minnie, and their children Ella, 13, and Benjamin, 8, were somewhere among the crowd of about 50,000 cheering for him.

Joseph’s dash across the city has inspired the children’s book, “Run, Dad, Run!,” the second for Minnie Francisco Francia after the well-received “Maria’s Colorful Banca” was published in 2013.

“Run, Dad, Run!” is the story of one son’s concern for his father every time he joins a marathon, the story of Joseph and Benjamin and a moment in time they are most closely connected. Minnie portrays that special connection in this father-son storybook.

“Benj was particularly worried about having his dad run in very cold weather,” said Minnie in response to questions from The FilAm. “The night before the run, I remember the wind was very harsh and it was drizzling so Benj was concerned his dad might get sick. He also wanted to know how his dad was feeling as he was preparing for his big race. One question he asked that night that touched me was, ‘Are you scared, Dad?’”

Benjamin is a third grade student at the Ateneo de Manila. His mother said he loves to play football, swim and bike. For a boy his age, he is quite serious, according to his father, and tends to put too much pressure on himself, such as when he cannot get a Math problem figured out. He talks about going to MIT for college to study engineering.

“This story was easy to write because it came from my own experience and observations of my kids and my husband’s running,” said Minnie. “I didn’t have to interview my son as I just based it on my observations of him.”

But as a mom, she made sure to make the story and language “relatable” to young readers.

“The story is about a family’s support for their Dad in his first marathon,” Minnie summed up the endearing storyline. “It follows their preparations from the time the kids wake up and their adventures throughout the day till they wait for him at the finish line.”

She said families with runners can truly relate to the details of the story, but any reader “can appreciate the themes of love for family, faith, persistence, and resilience in the face of challenges that can be found throughout the book.”

“Run, Dad, Run!” is available in both English and Filipino languages. Noted children’s book illustrator Leo Kempis Ang provided the images.

“We hope to be able to create a new market for children’s books – that of dads, uncles and grandfathers,” said Minnie in a statement.

“Experts agree that the male presence in the family has a very important role in engaging children, boys in particular, in reading,” she said, as she invited fathers and their young sons to read the book together “as a bonding activity.”

Joseph Jerome Francia with wife Minnie and their children Ella and Benjamin

Joseph Jerome Francia with wife Minnie and their children Ella and Benjamin

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