HARVARD - He’s a teacher, a drummer, a novelist and a picture book author - but of all the things Luke Reynolds does, he likes being a dad the best.
And it was being a dad that led the Bromfield School English teacher through the sleepless night that led to the publication of his second picture book, “If My Love Were a Fire Truck: A Daddy’s Love Song.”
His second son, Benjamin - Ben as he’s known - was not a good sleeper.
“So my wife and I just kept trading off our sleepless nights. He was about a year old and it was my turn and I remember rocking him and he kept shifting around,” Mr. Reynolds, 35, recalled. “And then this line just came came, ‘If my love were a fire truck,’ and I kept singing it over and over and then the second line kind of came.”
After that, for months lines would come to him at various points. They played in his brain with a sing-song rhyme, the same way he’d sung the first line again and again, even after his son was finally asleep.
It felt like he was writing music, he said.
“I love music and I’m a drummer but I’m a terrible singer so when I was singing it to my son I was hearing it as though someone who could sing was singing it,” he said, laughing.
“I keep envisioning that 'Fire Truck' could be sung by someone like Tim McGraw. I hear that voice singing it . . . In the land of wild dreams if he ever did a version of it and Random House put it in the book? Like a CD? Awww man.”
Mr. Reynolds grew up in Connecticut with four brothers. In his own home, before the summer’s over, he and his wife will add a third boy to their family and they’ll move east a bit so he can start teaching at the college level, though middle school has been a favorite for him.
He figures he and his wife will likely have more kids, maybe through adoption or maybe the old-fashioned way.
“We love kids and we’re not sleeping anyway, so why not?” he said. “The more the merrier.”
His brothers and sons, he said, are not typical guys. They’re sensitive and enjoy talking and storytelling - he and his brothers even went to see a romantic comedy together. He tries to instill in his students and his sons that it’s OK to cry, to love reading and writing, and to be thoughtful.
“Our motto is be kind, be bold and be honest,” he said.
His 8-year-old son enjoys writing and has a 160-page book called "Super Awesome Man" that he penned with essentially no help from his two writer parents.
“It’s a sort of Superman meets Captain Underpants style,” Mr. Reynolds said, adding that his son wanted to be a writer until he learned that tattoo artists can draw in permanent ink on a person’s skin and decided that might be a better career.
Mr. Reynolds said he’s always anxious to get back home to his kids when the workday is done. He was a stay-at-home dad while his wife worked on her Ph.D. in England and he loved the time with his eldest son.
But he’s also passionate about writing and while he used to be regimented about putting pen to paper in the early morning and late at night, he now jots down thoughts and ideas whenever he can find a spare moment. In England, he wrote for three hours a day while Tyler was in preschool.
“Those were my three golden hours and I would think, ‘No matter what, I have to write that entire time,’ ” he said.
Mr. Reynolds’ new book, which hit bookshelves in April, is dedicated to Tyler and Benjamin, and boasts beautiful, colorful illustrations by Western Massachusetts artist Jeff Mack.
The two-page spread of a marching band is Mr. Reynolds’ favorite. “If my love were a marching band, its drums would crash and boom,” it reads.
When it comes to parenting and teaching, Mr. Reynolds said he hopes his children and students grow up to be kind.
“I want my kids to be kind kids who people know they can go to for help and support,” he said. “And I hope they treat everybody the same: with dignity and respect.”
"If My Love Were a Fire Truck," published by Random House Children’s Books, is available in bookstores.