Tag Archives: Emma Lesko

Jared and sister Destiny collect food for Got Your Back San Diego.

Children on Autism Spectrum Overturn Commonly Held Misconceptions about the Disorder through Kindness

I would love to see this month honor those on the spectrum rather than focus exclusively on their challenges. All humans have challenges, and all humans have gifts. The autistic population has been portrayed inaccurately and one-dimensionally for too long. While we all need to identify our challenges in order to overcome them, if we fixate on them, we form an inaccurate perception of who we really are. Let’s round out this discussion, so our kids grow up with a healthy perspective of their wholeness, autistic or otherwise.

I wrote this last year, but am sharing again because I think this boy, Jared, is an amazing example of a person who celebrates his wholeness, and uses his gifts to make a positive impact in the world:

Kids for Peace, a global nonprofit and creator of the international Great Kindness Challenge, honors volunteers with autism for Autism Awareness Day (April 2, 2015).

Carlsbad, CA – April 2, 2015

Jared and sister Destiny collect food for Got Your Back San Diego.

Ten-year-old Jared and his sister Destiny collect donations for food assistance program Got Your Back San Diego.

Ten-year-old Jared from Pacific Rim Elementary in Carlsbad, CA, organized a class food drive for the food assistance program Got Your Back San Diego during The Great Kindness Challenge this year. Common misconceptions about autism, a highly variable spectrum disorder, could lead people to believe that Jared’s autism would prohibit such an achievement. However, Jared’s profound sense of fairness and justice, which experts attribute to some forms of autism, were precisely the traits that motivated him. “There are kids suffering [from hunger] on the weekends when they could be having fun with their friends and family. As a country, we can’t accept this,” says Jared. “We must help!”

Jared’s mother, Bridget Smith states, “New research on autism suggests that autistic people may actually feel emotion more deeply than other people, and knowing Jared, that makes a lot of sense to me. He has a deep sense of justice about social problems like immigration and homelessness, and is always trying to come up with creative ways to solve problems.”

Kids for Peace has inspired more than 2,000,000 children to get in touch with their compassion as a leadership skill, through participation in the 2015 Great Kindness Challenge in January. This free annual week-long school event calls on all students to perform 50 suggested kind acts to contribute to the greater good. For children on the autism spectrum, however, the challenge can empower them to shine as leaders in ways people may not expect.

Emma Lesko reads SUPER LEXI, a chapter book about a second-grade girl with autism spectrum disorder.

Children’s author Emma Lesko experiences a strong sense of justice and deep empathy for others with her autism spectrum disorder.

And it’s not just the kids who are benefiting. Emma Lesko, autistic children’s author and volunteer on The Great Kindness Challenge planning team, echoes Smith’s sentiment. “A common belief is that people on the spectrum lack the ability to take another’s perspective or to empathize. That has not been my experience,” she says. “In fact, my empathy is so overwhelming that I often become paralyzed by it. Working on The Great Kindness Challenge has given me the opportunity and tools to transform that paralysis into action.”

Jared experienced a similar empowerment. Not only did he take the lead on inspiring his classmates to donate food to combat hunger in his community, he also learned a little more about social acts of kindness from The Great Kindness Challenge checklist. “Things like saying ‘good morning’ to other kids, or giving a friend a high-five, don’t come easily to Jared,” says his mother. “Sometimes he doesn’t even feel comfortable acknowledging when other kids say ‘hi’ to him or offer him a high-five. Still, he completed pretty much every activity on the kindness checklist.”

Says Lesko, “The autism spectrum is very broad, so we must not generalize autistic abilities. We can say, however, that every child on the spectrum has value. Autistic activist Temple Grandin once said, ‘There must be a lot more focus on what a child can do instead of what he cannot do.’ In my opinion, The Great Kindness Challenge provides a path for many kids on the spectrum to do just that. Obsessive interests can lead to passion, rigidity can lead to perseverance, and intolerance to injustice can lead to changing the world.”

About Kids for Peace and The Great Kindness Challenge
Kids for Peace is a global 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that provides a platform for young people to actively engage in socially conscious leadership, community service, arts, environmental stewardship and global friendship. The Great Kindness Challenge is an initiative that encourages schools to devote one week each school year to performing as many acts of kindness as possible using a checklist of 50 suggestions. The next Great Kindness Challenge takes place on January 25-29, 2016. For more information, to register your school, or to download the checklist visit The Great Kindness Challenge website.

The Great Kindness Challenge is made possible by the generosity of presenting sponsor Dignity Health and supporting sponsors: ExaMobile, The Code Crew, ViaSat, SDG&E, NRG, KIND Snacks, and McGraw-Hill Education.

About Emma Lesko
Emma Lesko is the author of the children’s chapter book series SUPER LEXI (ages 6-9). She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in children’s literature, and offers writing workshops to lower elementary students. Emma has several years of experience teaching English and Spanish to children of varied developmental abilities in the United States, Brazil and Spain. For more information, visit http://www.EmmaLesko.com

Contact:
Jill McManigal, Co-Founder and Exec. Director of Kids for Peace
office 760.730.3320
cell 760.846.0608

Carlsbad's superintendent and two principals kicked off The Great Kindness Challenge by jumping out of an airplane!

Over 5 MILLION Kids Participate in The Great Kindness Challenge!

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Carlsbad’s superintendent and two principals kicked off The Great Kindness Challenge by jumping out of an airplane!

Last week, The Great Kindness Challenge spread joy and kindness through schools all over the world in a huge way. Over 5 MILLION kids participated, breaking last year’s record of 2 million. The Great Kindness Challenge is a movement that encourages schools to devote one week each school year to performing as many acts of kindness as possible using a checklist of 50 suggestions.

The energy around it is indescribable, with anyone from mayors to fire departments jumping in on the fun. This year, Carlsbad’s superintendent, Suzette Lovely, and two founding school principals, Chad Lund and Richard Tubbs, kicked the challenge of by jumping out of an airplane.

I feel so fortunate to have spent the week shooting video at the founding schools in the Carlsbad Unified School District on behalf of The Great Kindness Challenge founding nonprofit, Kids for Peace. Video shooting and editing is quickly becoming a new favorite form of storytelling for me, especially in this context. I simply could not look at my computer screen without smiling the entire time I edited this project.

Working with Kids for Peace and The Great Kindness Challenge has empowered me to grow into the person I wanted to be. With so much injustice in the world, I went through a period in which it was hard not to be overwhelmed. I didn’t even know where to start. The amazing Kids for Peace team allowed me room to find my place, and to empower kids and mobilize kids with similar passions.

It is so amazing to see kids access their natural strengths and use them for the greater good. Check out the video for a dose of joy!!!

Kids for Peace, creators of The Great Kindness Challenge, is a global nonprofit that provides a platform for kids to actively engage in socially conscious leadership, community service, arts, environmental stewardship, and global friendship.
Bottle

A New Form of Storytelling in Kenya!

Magzi quickly discovered that selfies are hilarious.

Magzi quickly discovered that selfies are hilarious.

I have so many exciting things to share, but perhaps the most exciting for me is my recent trip to Kenya. I had the pleasure of going there with Kids for Peace, who is donating a pre-primary school to the village of Mikei with the help of the kids who will participate in the 2016 Great Kindness Challenge.*

Though she's goofing off in this picture, it's common in Magzi's village to for kids to carry large buckets of water on their heads.

Though she’s goofing off in this picture, it’s common in Magzi’s village for kids to carry large buckets of water on their heads.

As a storyteller, I was particularly thrilled with my assignment: to film a day-in-the-life of a wonderful, funny and joyful 10-year-old girl, Magzi. The purpose of the video will be to share her story with kids across the world so they can donate coins for her school during The Great Kindness Challenge in January. Last year, over 2,000,000 students participated, and that number is growing. Magzi’s current school moves from vacant building-to-building, and has few desks and text books. I am confident that Magzi and her 160 classmates will have a beautiful new school with books and furniture and many of the other things on her wish list by next summer.

The best part of this project is giving Magzi a platform to use her voice and to be heard. I am a passionate believer in the necessity of exposing kids to diverse stories so they may expand their worldview and cultivate empathy. I would never write Magzi’s story; it is hers and hers alone. All she needs is the audience, and I am doing my best to remain a silent facilitator.

This is my first video of this kind, and I am truly hoping that I can create it in a way that captures the beauty of Mikei, and the radiance of the children who live there. They made it as easy a possible. The footage is gorgeous, and I cannot wait to share it!

Magzi and her friends in their current school yard.

Magzi and her friends in their current school yard.

 

 

 

 

 

*The Kindness Challenge is a movement that encourages schools to devote one week each school year to performing as many acts of kindness as possible using a checklist of 50 suggestions. It’s free, fun, and transformational. Sign up your school here!

Press

Huffington Post – You Are Unique For a Reason: An Interview with Author and Advocate Emma Lesko

Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution – An Interview with Emma

Kids for Peace, Great Kindness Challenge: Children on Autism Spectrum Overturn Commonly Held Myths about the Disorder through Kindness

Geek Club Books: Emma Lesko, an Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Literature

FrenchToast

Super Lexi’s Top Secret Egg Nog French Toast Recipe

FrenchToastThis is an actual thing that happened: I got to eat eggnog French toast at a TV table and watch cartoons once. You can read all about it in Super Lexi Is Not a Fan of Christmas. The thing about eggnog French toast is that it’s actually delicious. I wrote an official Top Secret recipe for you so you can eat it, too.

 

 

Stuff You Need

  • 8 pieces of bread (Udi’s if you’re not a fan of wheat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup thick egg nog (So Delicious Coconut Nog if dairy gives you the feeling of barf)
  • ¼ cup flour (something like Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour if you think wheat is blech)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Greasy stuff like butter, coconut oil or shortening for the griddle
  • MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT: Powdered sugar for snow

Top Secret Important Directions

  1. Dump eggs, egg nog, flour and vanilla into a blender. Make sure you put the lid on or else you’ll have a big, fat mess. Don’t ask me how I know that.
  2. Cover your ears. Have a grown-up press a button on your blender since your hands are busy. That thing is blaring loud.
  3. Now you have goop in your blender. Pour that goop into a bowl that’s big enough to fit bread.
  4. Ask your grown-up put a griddle on medium high heat. That way, you don’t have to get terrified of the burner. Get to work on step 5 while your grown-up puts the greasy stuff on a griddle.
  5. Dip bread in the goop. Your fingers will feel gross. Tell yourself that’s part of the fun.
  6. Have your grown-up cook that goopy bread on the griddle while you wipe your fingers off.
  7. MOST IMPORTANT STEP: When the French toast is all cooked, sprinkle powdered sugar snow on top. Make it beautiful. That makes it more delicious.
  8. Gobble up that delicious food.
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SUPER LEXI IS NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS Now Available!

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Woo Hoo! My chapter book SUPER LEXI IS NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS is now available! Click here to look inside!

About the Book

Lexi is not a fan of Christmas hoopla. It’s loud like an explosion, and it makes her insides hard like an ice cube. Too bad a big, fat holiday party at school is breathing down her neck. Now, to get out of it, Lexi has to get on the naughty list. Only one problem: Breaking rules gives her the feeling of barf.

Click here to buy

Click here to read chapter 1

Goodreads

Win Chapter Book SUPER LEXI IS NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS on Goodreads!

Goodreads

Lexi is not a fan of Christmas hoopla. It’s loud like an explosion, and it makes her insides hard like an ice cube. Too bad a big, fat holiday party at school is breathing down her neck. Now, to get out of it, Lexi has to get on the naughty list. Only one problem: Breaking rules gives her the feeling of barf.

Chapter book SUPER LEXI IS NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS comes out on November 4! Click here to win a free copy on Goodreads!

 

GoodreadsQ&A

Author Q&A on Goodreads!

GoodreadsQ&A

I will be answering questions regarding my chapter book SUPER LEXI and the upcoming sequel, SUPER LEXI IS NOT A FAN OF CHRISTMAS (Nov 4, 2014), on Goodreads for the next week!

Please submit your questions or those of your kids here!

 

Some of the Q & A’s so far:

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

As a little kid, I never got into “kid-friendly” activities. Overnight camping trips, field trips, school performances, carnivals, class parties, you name it, they overwhelmed me. I did not like them. But in the 80s, kids’ perspectives were not validated as well as they are today, so I frequently faced grown-ups who told me all kids liked that stuff. No one really believed me.

I decided to write SUPER LEXI about a second-grade girl who hates musical performances & staring eyeballs because I think kids need to be told there’s more than one way to experience the world. There is power in the written word. I thought if a grown-up wrote a book that says it’s OK to see the world this way, then it would be official for whatever kid needs to hear that.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

As a kids’ author, the best thing about being a writer is by and large the audience. I love children and I have so much hope and belief in them. The very nature of evolution promises that they are capable of doing greater things than I am. I simply love being a doorway that they can walk through on their own journeys to greatness.

Will there be anymore books in this series after the Christmas book? (Cade, age 8)

It’s so nice to hear from you, Cade!

I do have a few more ideas for SUPER LEXI books and hope to complete them, but there are no official releases scheduled after the Christmas book comes out in November. When I do have release dates on future books, I’ll announce them on my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/EmmaLeskoAuthor

Thank you for your question!

More questions

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Super Lexi Featured in Kirkus Reviews Magazine!

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I’m excited to announce that my chapter book Super Lexi was selected to be featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine! Less than 1 out of 10 indie books books receive this honor.

Check out the full review here!

If you’ve not read Super Lexi, you can get a sneak peek at the first chapter here!

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Kirkus Gives Chapter Book Super Lexi a Rave Review!

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Big victory for chapter book Super Lexi today – Kirkus gives it a rave review! Highlights below:

“An excellent chapter book that’s perfect for middle-grade fans of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series and other books featuring spirited female narrators.”

“Lexi has a remarkable narrative voice, and Lesko captures her anxieties and phobias beautifully.”

“She’s a fascinating protagonist…”

“A grade school girl battles her fear of “staring eyeballs” in this fantastic series starter by debut author Lesko.”

Read the full review here!

TeacherAppreciation

Free Book for Teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week!

TeacherAppreciation

I’m giving away free copies of warmly funny chapter book Super Lexi to teachers on my Facebook page. Open to teachers and parents looking to give thanks.

Check it out here! – http://on.fb.me/1id6426

Read Chapter One of Super Lexi here! – http://bit.ly/1dXPEFa

Some local Little Free Libraries - Super Lexi's inside!

National Library Appreciation Week

ShippedLibraryBooksHappy National Library Appreciation Week! As a lover of libraries and all things books, I am proud to support this wonderful week. I was happy to see my Facebook community jump at the chance to get free copies of my chapter book Super Lexi for their local libraries. I sent out 15 signed copies to libraries on three different continents this week!

Also, because I simply could not help myself, I took Super Lexi on a Little Free Library book tour. If you are not familiar with the Little Free Library “take a book, leave a book” program, I highly recommend you check it out, because it’s a very cool and neighborly way to promote literacy.

Some local Little Free Libraries - Super Lexi's inside!

Some local Little Free Libraries – Super Lexi’s inside!

Next up: Teacher Appreciation Week, beginning May 5! As a grateful kids’ author, I intend to give thanks 😉

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Vote for Lexi on A Mighty Girl!

My chapter book Super Lexi has been nominated to appear on A Mighty Girl, but she needs votes! A Mighty Girl is a wonderful site dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls. If you think Lexi is A Mighty Girl, please vote for her here!MightyGirlClick to Vote!

GoodReadsGiveaway

Super Lexi Giveaway on Goodreads!

Super Lexi is a warmly funny chapter book about a determined but nerve-wracked second grader.

Lexi’s got phobias about lots of things. Yogurt. Songs that get stuck in her head. Cashiers who think they’re good with kids. Her biggest phobia on Planet Earth, though, is eyeballs staring at her. That’s how come it’s too bad she has a solo in the school Parents’ Day performance. Good thing she has a plan. If she tornado-twirls at blur speed, she can disappear onstage!

Enter to win a copy of Super Lexi below!

Click to enter!

Click to enter!

Vonnegut

Big Week for Chapter Book Super Lexi!

Lots of activity with my chapter book Super Lexi this week!

The awesome tweets.

The awesome tweets.

First, investigative reporter from Wired magazine and esteemed supporter of the neurodiversity movement Steve Silberman tweeted kind words about Super Lexi. Needless to say, it made my day, because Steve Silberman is awesome.

Next, I began my long overdue journey on Goodreads! Who knew that was such a spectacular place? I can make friends who are only interested in talking about books? I can’t think of any thing more fun. Come find me. I”ll be thrilled to talk about nothing but books with you.

Click to find me!

Click to find me!

My Facebook page is happy!

My Facebook page is happy!

And finally, I am profoundly grateful that my Facebook page now has more than 2000 followers. The support has been overwhelming!

As many of you know by now, I have a phobia of eyeballs staring at me. Going public with Super Lexi was out of character for me, but I it did anyway in the hopes that I would figure out a way to survive it.

This is why I cling to an old quote my dear friend Kurt Vonnegut used to say (kidding, he was not my dear friend, though I’m certain my life would have been complete if he had been):

Vonnegut

Thanks to all of you, there’s hope for my wings yet!

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First School Visit!

SchoolVisitI got invited to do my first school visit! Like Lexi, I have a “phobia of eyeballs staring at me.” Should be interesting! 😉

In all seriousness, though, I really enjoy talking to kids about Lexi. Invariably, we end up talking about following dreams and identifying superpowers within ourselves. It all ends up being very inspiring and I simply LOVE to see kids light up when they map out their plans to make their own dreams come true.

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Super Lexi is Now Available!

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I am so happy to announce that my chapter book, Super Lexi is now available! Click here to buy it now!

I am so grateful to everyone who  has supported me along the way. I particularly appreciate those of you that have read my blog or followed me on Facebook/Twitter as Lexi has grown from an idea to a full-fledged character.

A special thanks to Adam Winsor, whose beautiful illustrations capture Lexi and her spirit better than I could have ever hoped for.  And thank you to Keith Snyder for presenting Lexi’s story exactly as I had envisioned it!