Ann Bilodeau wanted a book to explain to her then-5-year-old daughter why she didn’t believe in God, but such a book didn’t exist.

So Bilodeau wrote her own.

What Do You Believe, Mama? (Mascot Books), an illustrated children’s book, features a mother teaching her daughter lessons such as “Look for things that are true. Be open to ideas. Listen to your heart” and “You don’t have to believe in God to be good.”

“My daughter started asking questions,” said Bilodeau, a Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Butler University’s Speech and Language Clinic. “All the kids around her asked her why she did not believe in God, and she would come home crying because they said she was going to hell. We have always been respectful of others and I wanted a book to help me share that message with her.”

Bilodeau, a secular humanist, said that growing up, she attended a Methodist church—mainly on the holidays and special occasions. She never felt connected to a higher being, but she appreciated the moral lessons found in various religious ideologies, particularly the Golden Rule.

That is the advice she imparts in the book.

“I believe in caring for people with RESPECT, KINDNESS, ACCEPTANCE, FAIRNESS, and LOVE,” she writes. “I believe in knowing right from wrong and making good choices.”

“I wanted to find ways to teach her these important lessons—but from a secular perspective,” Bilodeau said.

The book is illustrated by Stanley Burford, Bilodeau’s aunt and a Herron School of Art professor emeritus.

“No children’s book is any good without wonderful illustrations, and this is where my aunt comes in,” Bilodeau said. “She completed these when she was 80 (she’s now 82).  She is an amazing woman and partnering with her on this project means the world to me.”

What Do You Believe, Mama? is available through, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.

“If we sell some and get the book—and the message—out there, I will be over the moon,” Bilodeau said.

Media contact:
Marc Allan