Superhero Levi: A Children’s Book About Disabilities and Differences

It is important for all children to be taught at an early age about the beauty of differences. When we look around at our highly diverse world, we see many differences: differences in appearance, differences in language, differences in physical movement, differences in customs. These differences are wonderful. However, when children are not taught how to receive and celebrate differences, they might respond in a shy or negative manner when they encounter someone unlike them. I find this to be true when children encounter another child or adult with disabilities. Instead of engaging in a conversation, they might simply stare or avoid eye contact. By teaching our children about special needs and disabilities, we promote a healthy and beautiful interpretation of the word “different” for all people are wonderfully made and gifted.

Superhero Levi is a story based on my nephew, Levi Slenk, who has MECP2 duplication syndrome. In a first-person narrative, the reader joins Levi in his struggles and victories that are different from those another child his age might face. Though he has to work hard, he never gives up. No matter what life may throw, he knows he can take it because he’s a superhero.

This book teaches children about special needs and disabilities through a viewpoint that they can comprehend: a superhero that embarks on a life adventure, encountering obstacles and triumphs. This story can be used in a home or classroom to teach children about disabilities and to encourage all children to press on no matter what difficulties they might face in school or in life.

Superhero Levi is now officially available for purchase on amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book.

On Release Weekend (July 20-22) 10% of each book sale will be given to Heartwood School, in Lansing, MI. Levi attends this school. Heartwood School badly needs a new playground that will better accommodate their students with special needs.

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The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

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I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

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Pearl and I at Breathe