A Sioux Falls author hopes customers are eager to start their holiday shopping in late summer. Tom Roberts' new Christmas book is hitting store shelves with all the sales going to benefit Children's Home Society. But unlike Roberts' earlier works, Return to the Farm - A Christmas Journey is geared toward older readers. Roberts is looking to the past to provide a brighter future for children.
Reading is reminiscing for Roberts. Roberts' new book is part family scrapbook, part memoir.
"This story, in its essence, is all about home," Roberts said.
The book recounts Roberts childhood growing up on a farm south of Ipswich, west of Aberdeen.
"I think most anybody who has lived on a farm carries those recollections with them throughout their lives. It did with me. I don't think there's a day that passes that I don't think about that time; it had a very high impact upon me," Roberts said.
The book includes Roberts family photos from a half-century ago. Even an artificial Christmas tree can give rise to an authentic holiday spirit.
"Our farm really wasn't very elaborate at all. It was very simple and yet to me as a child, it was a very magical place," Roberts said.
The book is a departure from Roberts' previous children's stories like T'was the Night Before Christ, Santa's Prayer and The Little Lost Sock. By skewing to an older audience, Roberts hopes the memories spelled out on the pages will connect with all ages.
"And what I'm hoping this book will do now is that they can look at the pictures and read the story with the younger generation in their own families and kind of carry that sense of storytelling of their own memories," Roberts said.
Sharing homegrown memories of the holidays is a natural fit in promoting the mission of the Children's Home Society since so many of the kids here have not come from a happy home.
"The kids that in particular are placed in our care come to us with behavioral, emotional issues, oftentimes due to tragic situations whether it be abuse or neglect," Roberts said.
The book costs $20, with all the proceeds going to Children's Home Society.
"To give the kids who come into our care that same kind of sense that we're hoping for a happy family experience and provide them with an atmosphere where they can grow their own happy memories of home." Roberts said.
The back of the book includes blank pages for readers to post their own memories. A literary reminder that everyone's Christmas journey home is constantly a work in progress.
Roberts will be the featured author at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. He'll read from his new book on the Freedom Stage, Saturday morning, August 30.
If you'd like to purchase a copy of his book, click here.