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Channing Tatum Shares the ‘Heartbreaking’ Moment He Realized What Daughter Everly Needed From Him

Though Channing Tatum says he completely panicked when he found out his then-wife Jenna Dewan was pregnant with a girl, in the seven years since daughter Everly’s birth in 2013, the actor has become an epic girl dad, regularly donning pink feather boas and painting his nails and even learning to French braid. Now, he’s just become a children’s book author, writing The One and Only Sparkella inspired by his awesome relationship with Everly.

“It wasn’t like I had this giant idea that I wanted to write a kids’ book,” he told People. “It was just something that I noticed in my daughter, watching her for the very first time become self-conscious.”

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Tatum described a moment when Everly didn’t want to wear a beloved cape to preschool. “She would wear a cape that, when you held your arms out, you [looked like] a slice of watermelon,” he said. “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.'”

As he later told Kelly Clarkson on her talk show Tuesday, that “heartbreaking” but “beautiful” moment was a lesson to him about what he could provide his daughter, the freedom and encouragement to be herself. It also inspired his book.

Also, while reading five books before bedtime to Everly every night, Tatum noticed there weren’t that many dad-daughter books, and so he decided to use the imaginative world he and his daughter had created together in Sparkella.

“The world that we created was so rich, and the characters and the voices were so much fun,” Tatum told Clarkson. “[Everly’s] such a little character, that the story just sort of happened. I didn’t really have to dig deep for the imagination. I just had to observe my daughter, and our relationship is super hilarious to me.”

“A lot [in the book] is stuff that Evie and I do. Like I do call her ‘Glitter Poop,’ ” Tatum told PEOPLE. “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.”

What Tatum discovered “was just to go into her world and connect with her in any way,” he added. “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.”

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