Senior Amanda Sherman publishes book, raises money for the Children’s Inn


Photo courtesy Amanda Sherman.

Senior Amanda Sherman read to Children’s Inn patients. Sherman published “Zilly the Therapy Dog,” a picture book about the therapy dog at the Children’s Inn at NIH who helps comfort the kids.

By Alex Robinson

At just 17, senior Amanda Sherman has already written and published a book.

This past April, Sherman published “Zilly the Therapy Dog,” a picture book about the therapy dog at the Children’s Inn at NIH who helps comfort the kids. Sherman will donate all proceeds from her book to the Inn, and the Inn recently invited her to read the book to patients at the hospital.

Sherman’s involvement in Making Smiles Happen, a Whitman club that makes crafts, cards and gifts for the patients at the Children’s Inn, inspired her to write the book. As president of the club, she brainstorms ideas for the crafts—like making Halloween goodie bags or holiday cards—organizes meetings and drops off the finished projects at the hospital. She loves working for the club, but wanted to give the Inn her own special gift in her last year in high school, she said.

“I’m graduating this year, so I really wanted that permanence,” Sherman said. “I wanted to do something that could last forever and that could keep sending checks to the Inn.”

Sherman was looking for a way to raise money for the Inn, and after hearing about Zilly through the hospital’s newsletter, the idea for writing the book finally came into focus, she said.

In the book, Zilly is born on a farm as the runt of her litter, but she’s able to find her calling when chosen as the hospital’s new therapy dog. She dresses up in costumes, plays with the kids and comforts a little boy as he’s getting a shot—all things that have happened in real life. At the end of the story, Zilly goes back to the farm and inspires the other puppies pursue their own true callings.

“I wanted the story to be about Zilly, because they all love her at the hospital, but also have the message that you can find your unique abilities and use it in any way,” Sherman said. “You don’t have to be the strongest or the smartest.”

Sherman began writing the book in December 2017, and once she was satisfied with the story, she found a professional illustrator for the book’s artwork. Her dad, Peter Sherman, figured out how to publish the book through Amazon’s self-publishing service, CreateSpace.

Amanda hopes elementary schools might purchase the book and wants to distribute it to other hospitals in the area. Though she doesn’t know how many copies have been sold, the recognition she’s received has been much more than she envisioned.

The most rewarding part of the process was getting to do a book reading for the children at the hospital, she said. The Inn’s Sr. Director of Community Engagement, Laura King organized the reading. King was the first staff member to receive the books when Sherman brought copies to the Inn, and Sherman’s kindness and maturity continually impresses King.

“She’s bright, kindhearted and very insightful, especially for someone so young,” King said. “And she’s very humble. She wasn’t looking for accolades or attention, she was just doing something kind for the kids and their families.”

At the Inn reading, Sherman read the kids her book, talked with them and their families, and signed books at the kids’ request.

“Meeting the kids and seeing them interact was just so amazing,” Sherman said. “To see the staff marvel at it and how grateful the families were for what I did was just so rewarding.”