When it comes to bullying, many children can probably write a book on the subject. And so they did.
The recently released "Can You Hear Us Now" tackles topics such as bullying and learning how to be happy. Twenty-six children ages 5-12 each contributed an essay accompanied by a vibrant illustration. Author come from five different states and represent five different nationalities, with several calling the South Bay home. 16-year-old Anahi Gomez of Gardena illustrated the cover.
The project was compiled by life coach and multi-published children and young adult book author Joanne Veeck, whose background also includes the research and practice of Positive Psychology.
Veeck had the idea for the project when speaking to a group of mostly high schoolers after one of her "Happy Hour" workshops. After sharing happiness tips with the teens, she learned a younger, seventh grade student told his teacher he was so depressed he "didn't want to live anymore.” He wished he could have attended the seminar.
That was a tipping point for Veeck. She started including younger children.
“I had to somehow reach the children before they got to the point of despair," said Veeck. "I wanted to create a book that was fun and entertaining to read, but at the same time, one that had a clear message of how to become your best self, find happiness and success at school, and help wipe-out bullying. I couldn't think of a better way to get the message out than through the kids themselves."
And so Veeck searched for the children to write it, through social media, large email groups, schools and clubs.
“In the beginning, it was a bit challenging. I could tell most people were really confused because the idea was so foreign. Nothing like this has ever been done before," said Veeck.
Once word got out and parents and youth leaders understood her vision, Veeck said she received more child authors and illustrators than she could accommodate.
“What surprised me with each one was their genuine, honest, heart-warming, and overall profound wisdom for their young ages," said Veeck.
In the beginning, some of the children were shy about opening up. Veeck conducted many of the interviews over FaceTime. By the end, most didn't want the conversations to end.
"Kids want to be heard and listened to, and believe me, they have a lot to say,” she stresses.
Veeck still has children asking when the next book will come out so they can be a part of the project. She notes that all the authors are extremely proud to be a part of the project.
"Can You Hear Us Now" is important work, said Veeck, because each author put his or her heart and soul into helping peers positively change their thoughts, words, and behavior for lasting happiness.
"It is a proven fact that happiness can be taught,” she said. “My hope for our children has and will always be that one day, as much importance will placed on emotional education as there is on reading and writing.”