Julianne Stuart with Her New Book

As a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Teaching Excellence, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with 2018 Catholic U alumna Julianne Stuart. She is an elementary Catholic school teacher who resides in West Virginia with her husband and newborn baby. Along with educating young minds, she is a published children's book author. We were interested in learning more about Julianne’s journey to authorship, from her time at Catholic University and her current role as an elementary Catholic school teacher.

Julianne was very enthusiastic about telling her story as a Catholic University student, alumna, teacher, and author. We met via Zoom and decided to go straight into the questions I prepared.

Julianne's children's book is called God's Box of Doughnuts. The title might seem light-hearted at first glance, but the story is very profound and meaningful.

"God's Box of Doughnuts is a story of God's love for all of us," Julianne told me. In the book, an angel (dressed as a baker) looks into a big box containing different kinds of doughnuts. "Billions and billions of doughnuts sure seems like a lot, but they're worth everything,' God told me in a thought," says the narrator. Some of the doughnuts are broken, smudged, and a lot of them are different colors. Nevertheless, in the book, God says that He loves all of them just the same.

What Inspired Julianne to Write God's Box of Doughnuts?

It started when she read the children's edition of the book Love Does by Bob Goff to her students.

"Bob has such a beautiful way of seeing Jesus in his everyday life and experiences, and my students and I loved reading his little stories," she stated. This theme of making the seemingly mundane or unimportant into something beautiful became the cornerstone of God's Box of Doughnuts.

Along with this literary inspiration, Julianne took a class in the Fall of 2016 at Catholic University about evaluating and teaching children's literature. She said the course and her professor, Dr. Angela McRae, allowed her to look deeper into the art of children's literature. Julianne was inspired by the roles of fluency, comprehension, illustrations, and cultural backgrounds in children’s reading development. Julianne thus reflected on her role as an author and felt called to pursue this other vocation. Her role as a Catholic school teacher also taught her how children are deep thinkers and ask "the hard questions." She hopes her simple writing and colorful imagery will help them understand the mysterious ways of God and His love for us.

How Did Catholic University Influence Julianne?

"The love for teaching exhibited by my professors in the Department of Education definitely had an impact on me," she stated. Julianne also felt a strong sense of community within the department and the university as a whole.

Julianne sees the profound importance of children's literature in today's world. She grew up reading books such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Little Princess, and the Winnie the Pooh series. She had always seen literature as an 'escape' into another world from which she could bring its values and lessons into her own life. This is why Julianne believes that children should continue to read and exercise their imagination.

"It's a way to connect with their imaginations and use that beautiful gift to teach and captivate them before they lose that childlike innocence and imagination," she said. "What's so special about children's literature is that the author's audience isn't just a child, but a child's imagination."

Julianne's story is a testament to the impact of engaging courses on college students who are entering the teaching profession. Advice that she would give to undergraduate students at Catholic U would be to adapt to change and always have faith in the process through all the trials and tribulations.

"The most beautiful things in my life have happened when I take a step away from it all and give it to God. Remember that God has a bigger plan than you do for your life, and I guarantee His plan is also a lot better; I know from experience," Julianne concluded.


James Dolley, B.A. is a graduate assistant at CTE and a student in the Department of Education at The Catholic University of America. He is pursuing his Master's in Secondary Education, and plans to become certified to teach History and French.