16 June 2011

Not Fat Because I Wanna Be

Six-year-old Chicago author, LaNiyah Bailey, has a mission - to tell other kids (and their adults) that not all overweight children got that way by eating junk and watching tv all day and that it is NOT okay to make fun of overweight children.

Despite eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, LaNiyah struggles with medical issues that cause her to be overweight. After being made fun of at school one time too many (though, really, isn't one time already too many!), LaNiyah came home and told her mother she wanted to write a book about her situation. Her mother said okay and helped LaNiyah write down her story.

The result is Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, a book that may be a little didactic, but is also a powerful statement against bullying. Rather than just feeling sorry to herself, LaNiyah's fictional counterpart takes control of her life and explains to her classmates why she has struggles and why it is never okay to make fun of overweight kids. Written in picture book format with short chapters,the book includes a parent and teachers' guide to preventing obesity and recognizing bullying. 

I have heard it said - and believe - that "We read to know we are not alone." I believe this book will speak powerfully to children struggling with weight issues, reminding them that they are not alone and giving them the strength to speak up for themselves and to love all that is good and strong within themselves, hopefully adopting LaNiyah's pledge: "I am beautiful. I am loved. I will not let what others say define me. Bullying is not cool!"

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