My book, Different Is Awesome!, released in July of 2015.
I visited Lake Highlands Elementary school in Dallas, TX in late 2016.
Yesterday, one of the kids who was in the audience at that school visit decided to be a character from Different Is Awesome! for their Halloween parade at school.
This is blowing my mind.
First of all, I love the fact that the book still resonates with this guy. I don’t know the depth of his connection with that character, but the fact that he chose to recreate the outfit Noah wears in the book, out of ALL the characters in ALL the book in ALL of the whole world, and then marched in a parade with his schoolmates…just…dude. Seriously, that’s amazing.
I also love (and I’m assuming here) that his parents were on board and helped him with this. I love that they have incorporated the message into their home and purposely perpetuate it throughout their community.
I also love that he identifies with one of the, for lack of a better term, peripheral characters. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned over the past few years is how stinking important it is for kids to SEE THEMSELVES in literature. Obviously my main objective was to incorporate a one-handed character, but I put a lot of thought into include a diverse group of classmates. I’m so so glad I did, even though at the time I wasn’t thinking of this aspect of the characters as explicitly.
I’m really encouraged today.
I’ll be honest and say that I have been tempted to say, “Relax, it’s just one kid,” but that’s the whole point, right? Something I did impacted this kid in such a way that he chose to become a character in a book I wrote. That’s amazing.
And while I haven’t been notified of any other kids choosing to do that (yet! lol), I know that countless kids and families have chosen to include the idea that being different is awesome into their homes and communities. That’s amazing, too.
And here’s my encouragement to you: Find ways you can lend your voice and expertise to help people. It’s worth it. And I KNOW you have something to offer! I say that because I know a lot of you are like, “This is a cool, feel-good story!” but then you’re thinking you didn’t write a book or do anything big or whatever. To that I say, STOP IT. Start small and where you’re at. Hold the door for someone. Pay someone a compliment. Think about your life experience and how you might be able to use it to help others in similar circumstances.
Don’t overthink it. Just look to help others and cool things will happen.