Through writing a new picture book about her husband's childhood, the former second lady says she saw how he was a “brave and adventurous” kid

By Sam Gillette and Ally Mauch
June 30, 2020 04:15 PM
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From left: Dr. Jill Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden
Justin Sullivan/Getty

It's no surprise that when Dr. Jill Biden was approached about writing a children’s book about her husband, presidential hopeful Joe Biden, she “jumped at the opportunity.”

Joey: The Story of Joe Biden, released on Tuesday, documents the former vice president’s childhood.

Through writing the picture book, the former second lady says she saw how, as a child, Joe was both a “brave and adventurous” kid who had a lot of fun and “a little boy who had a stutter.”

“He had to overcome a lot of hardship, he was bullied as a child, and so he knows what it feels for other kids to be bullied,” says Dr. Biden, 69. “He stood up to the bullies and he stood up to the bullies who bullied other kids, so I think that he's resilient. I want people to know that he's empathetic because of what he's been through in life, and that he's a leader, of course.”

An educator of 36 years, Dr. Biden currently serves as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College in addition to campaigning with the vice president, 77, who has clinched the Democratic nomination for the upcoming election in November against President Donald Trump.

What keeps her going while campaigning and living in a pandemic, Dr. Biden says, is exercise and reading — “I'm a big believer that exercise helps clear your head, and it starts my day on a really positive note. I think it's a great way to handle stress.”

“I’m also a big reader,” she adds. “It's such a big part of my life.”

Dr. Jill Biden
Ece Ogulturk

At the moment, she says she's halfway through Isabel Allende’s latest novel, A Long Petal of the Sea. What's more, she says she feels she has a connection with Allende, as they have both lost children.

“I met her years and years and years ago, and she told me this story: Her daughter, Paula, was in the hospital for a year, and she sat by her bedside,” says Dr. Biden. “She went to the hospital every single day, and then her daughter died.”

The story struck a chord with her, as the vice president's son Beau Biden, whom she helped raise, died from brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

“We went to the hospital every single day and sat by his bedside,” she says. “So I feel this connection to her, and I'm sure that when I see her again, it'll be something that we'll talk about.”

Joey: The Story of Joe Biden is out now.