Author Nate Carter on Little Kids Who Dream Big

From astronauts to doctors, scientists to construction workers, little kids often have big dreams for their futures. It’s that sense of endless possibility—and his desire to positively affirm his young daughter’s belief that she truly can be whatever she wants—that led Portland, Oregon-based father and author Nate Carter to pen Party Nazari’s Fantastic Future! Perfect for dreaming big, this sweet story is a beautiful and loving tribute from a parent to their child. We caught up with Nate about what inspired the book, his advice for little dreamers, and more.

What were you like as a kid?

I sort of had two personalities as a kid, which is natural when you’re growing up and discovering yourself. Around my friends I was loud, obnoxious, and would find ways to cause trouble. However, around others I was extremely shy and would characterize myself as very well behaved. Thinking back on this now, it was quite the paradox! One thing I do remember, however, is that books played a significant role in my life, particularly in the summer. Every summer, Multnomah County Libraries would host their annual summer reading programs that incentivized reading. My friends and I would go to the library and pick up books to read regularly throughout the summer. We wanted to win all of the prizes, and if I remember correctly, the final prize was a free ticket to Oaks Park. What kid doesn’t love amusement parks?

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to be a construction worker. As a kid, I would watch construction workers perform their jobs of creating things from raw materials, and that always fascinated me. How did we go from a couple pieces of wood to an entire house? From wet concrete to entire buildings? I remember one time there was a contractor performing sewer repairs in front of my house, and I went outside and watched from a safe distance. The worker at the time was very kind and explained what they were doing, which only led to me be even more curious. 

What made you want to create a children’s book?

The book was inspired by my daughter, Nazari. I really wanted to do something for her that she would be extremely proud of. The book is definitely dedicated to her, which is special, but I think even more special is the fact that the book will be in her classrooms as she goes through primary school. She can point to them and share them with her friends, which hopefully instills confidence in her early on. 

Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to writeParty Nazari’s Fantastic Future!

A central theme throughout Party Nazari’s Fantastic Future! is positivity, self-reliance, and community. These are values that I wanted to make sure Nazari would have as she grows into a young woman. At the time of writing the book, so much was happening in the world. I wanted to write something that would bring us back to our fundamental tenets in life. For example, growing our own food but also sharing it with our community, while also encouraging young kids to believe that they can achieve whatever they want in life.

This story is one all little kids who dream of their future can relate to, but it feels especially powerful to have a little girl as the main character. Why do you think it’s important to empower our girls from an early age?

To be completely honest, the main character being a little girl was because Nazari is a little girl. If I had a son, he would probably have been the main character—so the gender component here is completely coincidental. Nonetheless, this doesn’t take away from my primary message. In today’s society we are often taught to be individualistic, and to strive for as much personal achievement as possible. However, I think it is important that we teach our kids from an early age to encompass positive traits such as sympathy, sharing, and tolerance. If we can teach these traits from day one, it will be a great first step in solving our societal challenges. We need a return to ‘treating others how you want to be treated’ and ‘sharing is caring.’ Party Nazari is my way of spreading that message to younger populations. 

What was the most surprising part of the animated storybook creation process? What has it been like seeing this story come to life with animation?

The most surprising part was the fact that someone wanted to animate my story! I come from humble beginnings, and when I was writing Party Nazari’s Fantastic Future!, I hadn’t imagined it ever becoming an animated storybook. My entire family enjoyed it—they mentioned that the voice actually sounds like Nazari’s voice. She was a big fan and she even said, “Hey, that sounds just like me.” For me, this was something that validated why I chose to write the book; to see it in action was awesome. 

Do you have a favorite teacher from your school days?

There are so many teachers who have had a positive and lifelong impact on me. But if I had to choose one, it would be my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Gains. What made her so special was that you could tell she was passionate about our success in education. Being a public school, she never let anything stop her from providing us the nurture and care we needed at such a formative part of our lives. She taught us everything we needed to know, while also encouraging us to give our best every day. She would often say “Give it your best, and that is enough.”

What’s one piece of advice you would give to children who are dreaming of their futures and all the different things they can be?

My biggest regret growing up was not asking questions. As I mentioned, I was extremely shy and always felt like my questions weren’t worthy. Looking back, that was a mistake. In order to grow, you have to feed your curiosity, and in order to do that you have to ask questions. Worry about whether it was a good or bad question later in life, but while you’re young and growing, every question is a great question.

What was the best piece of advice your parents or grandparents ever gave you?

I think the best advice was really to teach me about delayed gratification. We live in a world where instant gratification envelopes us from every direction. My grandfather would always say, “Your future self will thank you for the hard work you put in today.” This quote still resonates with me every day because I am constantly growing. And now with Nazari, I am constantly thinking about my future self. 

Lastly, what is your favorite way to enjoy a good book?

My favorite way to enjoy a good book is to hear it being read by orators, people who really embrace the characters in a book and bring them to life. I love listening to audiobooks during long drives, or just whenever I need to take a break from reality. They allow me to zone out and illustrate the book in my head.