Debbie Reece was picking her 5-year-old son Matthew up from Van Alstyne Elementary when she saw his face – immediately she could tell it had been a tough day.

Debbie Reece was picking her 5-year-old son Matthew up from Van Alstyne Elementary when she saw his face – immediately she could tell it had been a tough day.

When she saw her son’s binder, she noticed the clip that indicated his behavior for the day had been moved. Her suspicions were confirmed – it had been a bad day.

From the backseat, Matthew began to tell her all the circumstances that culminated in his terrible day, finally telling his mother, "I’m just so afraid that you’re never going to want to hug me."

That poignant moment struck Reece. She couldn’t get it out of her mind.

"We get home and we have a chair here — I’m sure every family has a spot, a laughing place, a comfort zone — we have a chair that we would sit in all the time and rock," Reece said. "And I said to Matthew, ‘Why don’t you meet me in the chair?’ And I held him and I hugged him and I said, ‘I will always hug you and love you, no matter how bad your day is.’ … And you could feel the relief, and we just sat there for a little bit and the whole time I’m thinking, ‘I have got to write this down.’"

And that’s just what she did. Years later, "The Worst Day Ever" debuted in book stores and online in late 2014, with Reece inspired by the true events of that day with her son.

"He is not the only child having days like this," she said. "Children have these days all the time, and it’s helpful to know that there is someone who will hug you and love you. You are not a bad child; you’re learning school rules; you’re learning about friendship. … There’s so many things that go on when they’re young like that."

It’s a message that’s resonated with audiences. To date, "The Worst Day Ever" has earned Gold for the Mom’s Choice Award and the Dove Seal of Approval, with Reece most recently awarded first place for children’s book age 1-6 at the North Texas Book Festival for children’s literature.

Reece self-published "The Worst Day Ever" on BeeBop Books, her own publishing company she operates from home. This was a company she started when she wrote her first book, "The Christmas Pumpkin," released in 2009, and inspired once again by her son’s adventures.

When she’s not publishing or writing her books, she substitute teaches in Howe and Van Alstyne, where she gets to have even more experiences with children.

"There’s always positive experiences that adults can share with kids, especially for kids to be able to meet somebody that’s actually published a book, that’s not something they see every day," Howe Elementary Principal Clay Wilson said. "… Maybe it sparks some ideas in these kids’ minds that they can go out and do the same thing."

Reece agreed and said when she goes to teach many of the kids recognize her as the lady that wrote "The Christmas Pumpkin" and "The Worst Day Ever." She will even sometimes do readings at the schools.

"I told them this is about things that happened at (Van Alstyne Elementary), but they happen at every school," she said. "But these pictures and these stories and these children are all things that happened (there). And I would joke around when I’d read a part and say, ‘This one’s that teacher over there, or that lunch lady over there,’ because they all had a piece of this story."

Because her books are based on actual events, she said it doesn’t take her very long to write the stories themselves. She wrote her first book in a pre-school classroom while the students napped, and wrote her second book on the computer at home in a single sitting. It’s what happens afterward that takes time.

"For me, I write the story when it happens, and then I set it off to the side and when the time comes, then I’m able to focus on putting that together with illustrations and moving into the next step of publishing it. And that happens when it happens," she said.

She explained that the reason for this is to help her balance being a full-time wife and mother while simultaneously working as an author and publisher.

"What’s important to me is being a mom: fixing dinner, helping with homework, being at the baseball games," she said. "So my job as a publisher is very important with marketing and sales and advertising, but my role as a parent and as a spouse is equally if not more important."

For her stories, Reece had a picture concept in mind that not just anybody would meet. Her illustrator Ron Head said Reece approached him to illustrate the books with some stick figure drawings of her own to convey the concept she was looking for – artwork with a nostalgic storybook feel.

"She really had a pretty good indication as to the voice she wanted to create behind the story," Head said. "As parents you’ve got a little one, and when you’re trying to nurture them and keep them positive and overcoming some of the challenges that all kids go through, and I think she’s made it a real focus for her in terms of sharing these stories with schools and doing public readings a lot and just trying to bring across a good, positive message."

Next up, Reece has a book written that precedes the events in her two other works. She said it is written in the format of a children’s book, but is geared towards parents about the nap they never get. She expects the book to be released in the next year or two. For more information on the works she has released, visit