Gold-Star mother to fallen Navy SEAL releases third children’s book written in honor of son


Award-winning author Krista Keating-Joseph, the mother of fallen Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, released the third children’s book written in honor of her son — “Big-Hearted Charlie Learns How to Make Friends” — which focuses on how to handle bullying.

“With classroom bullying and bullying by classmates on social media so prevalent in our society now, I thought the message of how to respond to bullies, and forgiveness, were some strong messages children need to hear,” said Keating-Joseph, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident. “As with all the previous books, this book also allows us to keep Charles’ memory alive, along with his ideals.”

Based on a true story when Charlie was in second grade, the new book involves young Charlie being ridiculed for his looks by another boy at school — and how he used humor to defuse the problem. The story also focuses on the theme of forgiveness, with Charlie befriending the bullying classmate, making a friend by being a friend.

Charles Keating IV died in Iraq on May 3, 2016, while fighting Islamic State militants. His death prompted Keating-Joseph to revisit publishing a book about her son’s perseverance and determination on his school’s track team that she had started a decade earlier, publishing “Big-Hearted Charlie Runs the Mile in 2017,” with that book winning a Royal Palm Literary Award in the children’s category. Working with her mother, Phyllis Holmes, as illustrator, the team released “Big-Hearted Charlie Never Gives Up” later in the year.

“We were proud to win the award, but it’s even more rewarding to know that Charles would be proud that the stories of his exploits in school are helping children to learn about overcoming life’s obstacles and the importance of being kind and forgiving to others along the way,” Keating-Joseph said.

She also said book writing has helped her cope with the sudden, tragic loss of her son.

“To lose someone close to you, especially a son or daughter, can be life-altering,” she said. “In that sense, these books have been therapeutic for me and our family in coping with that loss and creating something positive out of a tragedy.”

Apart from creating the children’s books about Charlie, Keating-Joseph said she relied on faith and support from loved ones to help her through the loss — and the importance of not taking life and friends and family, for granted.

“I miss him every day, but his loss taught me to appreciate every day too,” she said. “It also led me to share the positive attitude that young Charlie had with children growing up now, so they would know other kids have faced and overcome the same challenges they’re facing in school today.”

By sharing the story of her son’s loss, she hopes others who are facing the same types of tragedy in their lives will know they’re not alone.

“Tragic things sometimes happen in our lives, but you do have the strength to overcome them,” she said.

For more information about “Big-Hearted Charlie Learns How to Make Friends” and other children’s books by Krista Keating-Joseph, visit Barnes & Noble bookstores or online, or go to