Last Friday, as folks all over the country were celebrating Dr. Seuss, I was reading my book to the kids at Glenview Elementary in Oakland. By my book, I mean the chapter book I just self- published after a year of alternating hard work and procrastination. The book I’ve wanted to write since I was just a kid. The book I am both proud of and terrified to release into the world. Doing hard things can be scary, ya’ll. Part of being a Go Girl! is having the courage to do them anyway while taking in the support and love of those around you. The community at Glenview Elementary has been in my corner, cheering me on all year. It’s made a difference.
Friday, I had the honor of reading a few chapters from Starring Celia to a fifth grade class at Glenview. When I arrived, I smiled at the array of cozy and colorful pj’s the kids were wearing. They had blankets and were lounging on top of their desks rather than sitting studiously behind them. It was the last day of the read-a-thon and they were soaking it up. The room got quiet as I read the opening lines of my book and the kids learned about Celia’s plight. My title character has been bullied at school all year and can’t take it anymore. She acts out, strikes back and gets in major trouble. The pajama-wearing kids around me could relate. They exploded with questions:
“Why did Celia do it? How could she get so mad just ‘cause someone rolled their eyes?”
“Why is Quincy being so mean to Celia? Is she jealous? Will they be friends by the end?”
I loved seeing how interested the boys in class were about what happens to the girls in the book. Choosing to write a coming-of-age story for a girl protagonist was an intentional choice for me. The world needs more Pippi Longstockings and Ivy & Beans in my opinion. Girls are often reading about adventurous boys who create exciting lives by overcoming challenges. I was thrilled to see the boys in this classroom seemed to really care about the lives of the girls in the book. This trickled onto the yard later that day when I heard boys telling girls about what happened in the book. They were lit up about the story and the Go Girls! Program. A reminder that supporting girls really can benefit the whole community. Literacy really can lead to empathy.
As I read the next chapter to this group of 5th graders, their curiosity turned toward my book-writing process.
“Is a publisher coming to your house tonight?” No, I answered and explained the process of self-publishing. “Well, who’s permission did you get to write this book?” Beautiful question. I explained how important it was to believe in myself, write this first book and hopefully convince a publisher to help me produce a whole series. “You mean, you just gave yourself permission…and wrote a book?” Yes. Yes I did.
Here’s how I explained to kids at Glenview how to do it for themselves in 5 simple steps…
Come celebrate the launch of my book with a FREE event for families on March 17 in San Francisco!