Leslie Odom Jr.'s New Children's Book Is About Building Solid Relationships With Kids

'I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know' is co-authored with his wife Nicolette Robinson and inspired their most precious gift to their two children.

Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson embrace holding a copy of their new book.

Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson

Nicolette Robinson and Leslie Odom Jr. balance crazy work schedules, celebrity status, and family time regularly. The married multi-talented stage and screen actors are parents to 6-year-old Lucille and 2-year-old Able, whom they love dearly and seek to invent the most creative ways to express that love at all times. Yet, it’s a constant journey to equalize their hectic, jet-setting careers with the desire for normalcy in their little people’s lives.  

“We are very grateful for a strong community at home, and then the other piece is this love piece,” Robinson tells Parents. “I think we just want our kids to know, no matter where we are, no matter what part of the world we're all in, they are loved, loved, loved, no matter what.” 

Sometimes showing love includes sending videos and having virtual dance parties with the children. Other times, it’s ensuring they are extremely present with Able and Lucille when they’re all together as a family. 

“I'm somewhere else plenty of the time, so when I'm with them, I'm with them,” Odom Jr. says. 

Love in Crisis

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the frequently-working actors were at home like the rest of the world. That’s when the wheels of their minds began churning out something to reaffirm their love for their children and explore the relationships children have with various loved ones, from parents to aunts and uncles and all family in between. For the couple, the best way to present these thoughts was in book form.

“Lucy would go to bed, and we'd sit at our dining room table, pull out our journals each, and we would just, sometimes, we'd do some free writing, then we'd start,” Robinson says. “Then we just went back and forth. We would start writing the book itself, and then we would edit each other's stuff, and we would contribute. And it was an interesting process, similar to songwriting, especially because our book is also a song. It was very, very collaborative.” 

The end result is their co-authored book I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know.

“It was a really nice, bright spot in an otherwise challenging time, and it's a message that can't be said enough, quite frankly,” Odom Jr. says. 

Robinson says spending so much time away from the children makes her want to instill the message in them even more. 

“We travel a lot,” she says. “We're in and out of the city, and our kids, we see them, and we don't. And the biggest thing is just wanting to instill that knowing that they are deeply, deeply loved no matter what they do, no matter where we are. There's plenty of books that are saying things like that, but for us, we wanted to really deeply and specifically focus on that and why we love them, why they're loved.” 

Lucille and Able give them plenty of reasons to dote on them. 

“They're both such amazing humans—we feel very lucky,” Robinson says. “They’re very different, vibrant, happy, loving kids. Lucy loves people. She loves performing. She loves dancing and singing, and she loves princesses. And she's got a really kind heart. Able is a bundle of joy. He's got a great sense of humor. He loves his sister. He loves books, and he's already learning to read.”

A Deeply Personal Story

The storybook, meant to be expansive, explores a variety of family members letting the kids in their lives know that they are special people. 

“It's about a relationship,” Odom Jr. says. “That's what these little humans have taught us. We respect our kids; we respect their personhood and their individual identities and stuff. And so the book really goes back to the beginning of that relationship, whether it's a two-year relationship or a six-year or an eight or nine-year relationship, that there are special moments that stand out in that relationship. We tried to bring those moments out in writing, and [illustrator] Joy [Hwang Ruiz] tried to bring them out in the drawings.” 

The illustrations are personal for the family, too. 

“There's such a playfulness to it, and there's so much you can notice every time you read it,” she says. “Joy was so lovely and put so many personal elements into it, like some of our families in there and our kids, stuffed animals, and fun things like that. It's really sweet.” 

Hwang Ruiz remarks that the story reminded her of special moments with her own children. 

“Leslie and Nicolette's story instantly transported me to every moment I have shared with my children—the laughs, the first words, the first steps, and all of the joyous moments of parenthood in between,” Hwang Ruiz says. “Sitting beside my newborn daughter and 4-year-old girl, I looked at their little faces and felt the same love pour out of this book. I had to be part of the project and hope my illustrations convey that same emotional heart." 

Thankful to have drawn upon that memory for their illustrator, the parents hope the book starts a conversation about what it was like when the familial bond first began. 

“We hope that it gets you talking and thinking about your own relationships, your own little people, and your life,” Odom Jr. says.  

Overall, however, the message is the most important part. Love is essential in helping your children grow into their best selves, Robinson says.

“I think self-love is one of the most important things,” she says. “You have to be able to have self-love to love others, to make your way confidently through this world. And I'm still learning; we're still figuring it out. But I do think that part of that journey for your kids is teaching them how to love and teaching them that they are loved so endlessly no matter what they do.”

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