Channing Tatum Has a Message for Girl Dads: 'Go Into Her World'

The actor has written his first children's book, The One and Only Sparkella, inspired by his 7-year-old daughter Everly

Channing Tatum knows a thing or two about being a girl dad.

Inspired by his own daughter Everly, 7, with ex-wife Jenna Dewan, Tatum, 41, has written his first children's book, The One and Only Sparkella.

"It wasn't like I had this giant idea that I wanted to write a kids' book," he tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "It was just something that I noticed in my daughter, watching her for the very first time become self-conscious."

Tatum recalls a moment when Everly was hesitant to put on something she loved for preschool. "She would wear a cape that, when you held your arms out, you [looked like] a slice of watermelon," the actor says. "And it was one of her favorites. But she didn't want to wear it to school, and when I asked her why, she said, 'I don't want to get made fun of.' So I wanted to make this little story about this girl who is very unique and really likes to shine."

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channing tatum
Channing Tatum/Instagram

The book, which tells the story about a father and his daughter, was inspired by Tatum's own relationship with Everly.

"A lot [in the book] is stuff that Evie and I do. Like I do call her 'Glitter Poop,' " he says. "I was really nervous when I became a single dad, and having to raise a little girl, not being able to have the resource of a woman there to be able to lean into how to relate to her as she grows up. I literally went to YouTube and learned how to braid hair."

channing tatum
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

What Tatum discovered "was just to go into her world and connect with her in any way," he adds. "If it's wearing a tutu or painting your nails or wearing makeup — who cares? It just worked for me. I see dads sometimes, and . . . being a parent is hard. I wanted the book to be a little bit of a letter to them. Just play — you'll be rewarded with love."

sparkella by channing tatum

The actor, who will next make his directorial debut with the upcoming movie Dog — codirected by his creative partner Reid Carolin — and costar with Sandra Bullock in The Lost City of D, admits a silver lining from the pandemic was spending even more time with Everly at his farm in Ojai, Calif.

"We were getting up, riding dirt bikes every day and playing outside," he says. "It really just made me understand how incredibly blessed I am."

As for how he'll handle Everly's teen years, Tatum hopes to take it all in stride as well. "Evie is so strong-willed," he adds. "Look, I had a crazy teen life, and she's got me in there. But I hope I can be the dad and also the homie."

The One and Only Sparkella, illustrated by Kim Barnes, is available now.

For more on Channing Tatum, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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