By Kristina Houck
Whether attending a new school or performing on stage for the first time, doing new things can be scary for kids.
For former Del Mar resident Jennifer Azantian, it was swimming in the deep end of the pool.
A storyteller since she was a young girl, Azantian recalls how she faced her fears to help her younger sister overcome her own fears in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids,” a collection of 101 short stories about good decisions, self-esteem and positive thinking.
“Even back then I was telling stories,” said Azantian, who now lives in Escondido. “I was motivated by her fears, which kind of mirrored my own at her age, and I decided to use our shared fantasy world to help her overcome her fear of jumping into the pool.”
Co-authored by actor Kevin Sorbo and “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publisher Amy Newmark, the book is geared for children ages 7 to 13, and covers topics such as disabilities, bullying and relationships. Azantian’s story is in the book’s first chapter, “Trying Something New.”
“Sharks and Mermaids” is a story about the then 10-year-old encouraging her 6-year-old sister, Lauren, to jump in the deep end of the pool by creating a story about mermaids. When she was younger, Azantian had also been afraid to swim in the deep end because she was told that’s where sharks swam.
“The story is absolutely true and very, very special to me,” she said.
Now 25 years old, Azantian and her sister are still really close.
“She read it before it was published when I sent it over to her and asked her permission,” Azantian said. “She cried. She remembers the day as vividly as I do.”
Azantian grew up in Orange County. In 2010, she graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s in psychology. For more than two years, she worked as an executive assistant, office manager and literary agent at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in Del Mar. She recently joined Los Angeles-based Paul S. Levine Literary Agency.
Also an author, her first short story, “The Sentinel’s Son,” was published in the 2009 Winter Solstice Special Edition of “Emerald Tales Magazine.” Another of her short stories, “The After Picture,” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You.” Currently, she is working on a novel.
Azantian hopes her story will be a great lesson and a source of inspiration for young readers.
“If you find a way to make somebody else’s life just a little bit easier, do that,” she said. “Even when you’re young, when you think you can’t make a difference, you can. Do everything you can to help others.”
For more information or to purchase a copy of the book, visit www.chickensoup.com.