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Writing For Young Children About Complex Social Issues: A Diversity Author Shares Her Perspective

Have you ever been afraid to start something new because you didn't know what to expect? Maybe everyone will be different than you? Doing something new and out of our comfort zone can definitely develop a person, well in this case, an Iguana's personality!

Iggy the Iguana is a story about a young iguana boy starting his first day at a new school. It doesn't seem too bad, until you find out that he has to change from a private "All-Lizard" school out in the suburbs to a public "All-Animal" school located in the heart of the city in Houston, Texas. Diversity and acceptance has the power to change Iggy from being a timid and insecure iguana to a confident and understanding reptile.

Turtles can't take off their shells ... not even if they have a bad back. Cats have to shave off their hair if they want to play baseball outside in the summertime. Who knew! Bullfrogs from New York don't always come across as friendly, so maybe you should get to know them a little better. Newborn puppies don't always look like cute little dogs at birth, so don't mistake them as aliens. Box shell turtles can't swim, so why is the one Iggy meets determined to surf one day? Just because the mouse from Spain doesn't talk very much, doesn't mean he can't speak English ... maybe he has more to say if you just ask. It's hard for Iggy to believe that if he didn't meet all of these different animals in fourth grade, he would have missed out on so much knowledge and excitement. Iggy went from being shy and reserved to being inquisitive and open-minded. Experiences with those who are not alike help a lizard, like Iggy, become a more well-rounded individual, once he realizes his way of doing things is not the only way in the world. Iggy also got to teach the other animals a thing or two about being a lizard! When we accept others and find ways to relate on a whole new level, our own self-acceptance emerges too. Just think, if we were all the same, life would be pretty dull.

Iggy's story doesn't just teach that diversity on the outside is interesting, but diversity on the inside matters too. Not everyone's family upbringing or structure is the same. Many of the animals in Iggy the Iguana didn't come from the same type of family as Iggy. These eye-opening realizations help Iggy become more empathetic and understanding. The true value of friendship is addressed as Iggy makes lasting relationships with his new friends.

Iggy the Iguana - Iggy the Iguana is the first book in the Iggy Chapter Book Series for ages 7 to 11. The story focuses on the major themes of acceptance, friendship, and diversity while Iggy starts a brand new school. The transition from a private "all-lizard" school to a public "all-animal" school is eye opening, as Iggy soon accepts that just because other animals are different doesn't mean they can't be your friends. By the end of Iggy's 4th grade year, he realizes that changing schools was the best move he could have ever made!

Melissa M. Williams is an advocate for literacy and creativity in children. Her children's chapter books were inspired by real life experiences with childhood pets she owned while growing up in Houston, Texas. While finishing her Master's degree in Professional Counseling, Melissa started substitute teaching for elementary schools in order to understand the daily life of her young audience. The students helped her create relatable and realistic stories while including lessons, values and acceptance within the story-line. In addition to writing, Melissa spends most of the school year speaking to students about her own journey as an author and the process of creative writing, while encouraging each student to think outside the box, follow their inner passion, and write their own stories.

Win the Iggy the Iguana Give Away! Including the Newly Released Items in Iggy Collection, Snap Shell the Turtle (Plush Doll), Iggy Collector's Baseball Cards, and The Read3Zero T-Shirt ... supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time. Be our most active visitor during the tour for a chance to win this Iggy Collection -- the tour schedule is posted at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2010/01/iggy-iguana-and-melissa-m-williams-tour.html to make it easy for you to visit and comment. To learn more about Iggy and Melissa Williams - visit www.iggytheiguana.com.


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