"Tired and emotional, I held my daughter and remembered the many ways I watched my mother be brave and was encouraged to do the same," the Younger actress tells PEOPLE

By Sam Gillette
September 23, 2020 12:30 PM
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The actress with her children
Hilary Duff/Instagram

Hilary Duff may be adored by millions of Younger fans, but she still experiences challenges as a working mom.

Those joys and hardships — specifically coming to the end of her "breastfeeding journey" with daughter Banks Violet — inspired her to write a new children's book about the bravery of little girls.

On Wednesday, the 32-year-old actress announced that her picture book, My Little Brave Girl, will be published by Random House Books for Young Readers on March 23, 2021. She also plans to release an untitled second picture book in the future.

"I remember coming home from work around midnight, just in time for my daughter's dream feed. I hadn't smelled her all day and it was the first week of a long four months of returning to work," Duff, who shares 22-month-old Banks with husband Matthew Koma and son Luca Cruz, 8, with ex Mike Comrie, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.

"Tired and emotional, I held my daughter and remembered the many ways I watched my mother be brave and was encouraged to do the same," she continues. "I sat there in a well of emotion, realizing I was close to the end of my breastfeeding journey with my daughter and this was just one of the many ways I was going to watch her grow into a little brave girl."

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Random House Books for Young Readers

Duff explains that she got the idea for the picture book that same night and says she "literally wrote it in a note on my phone, having no clue that it would turn into something that would be in the hands of families, sharing the same bittersweet experience."

"I'm so grateful for my publishers who believed in my simple words, sparked by an authentically emotional night sitting in my cozy Brooklyn apartment," she says. "I had a really strong vision of the brave girls and their adventures for this book and I can't quite put into words how Kelsey Garrity-Riley brought the book to life the way she did with her tender and spirited illustrations."

Duff adds, "I hope this book makes a tough night for a parent seem a little less alone and inspires girls to get up, stand up, be loud and reach as high as they can at any age."

My Little Brave Girl is an endearing book about bravery and love. The lyrical text encourages girls to dream big and live life with an open heart. It's inspired by the actress' own experiences as a young mom, "as she considered all the ways her daughter had to be brave even as an infant," reads the book's description.

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The Lizzie McGuire star recently opened up to PEOPLE about feeling "guilt" when devoting her time to Banks as a newborn and having less time to focus on her older son.

"A newborn needs their mom so much, and so much of that time is sitting and nursing. You're kind of incapable of physically doing anything else with another child," she said. "[My son] Luca was almost 7 when I had her. I had a lot of guilt and felt like, 'Am I giving him enough?' "

Luca's eventual adoration for his little sister, however, helped Duff to squash the self-guilt.

"Their bond was so sweet right away. It helped me overcome that [guilt] because I saw that he was old enough to [understand]," she said. "If I could give him a finite, 'Hey, I have to do this for the next 35 minutes, and then it's going to be your time with me,' he could wrap his head around that."

She added, "The age gap is actually really great; they're buddies."