The Story Behind Unstoppable Me! by Susan Verde
Thank you, Nerdy Book Club for the chance to share a bit of the backstory for my newest picture book Unstoppable Me! Many of my books come from things I have experienced as a kid or have seen and dealt with firsthand as a teacher and a parent and this is no different. But THIS story has a lot of meaning for me and hopefully others.
When I was a kid, I faced a lot of my own challenges. I had trouble keeping still, always active, I worried a lot and moving helped me with my worries. I remember the adults around me often didn’t understand and needed me to STOP and SIT at my desk or in my chair. I remember feeling like I was a “problem” sometimes and that didn’t feel very good. I made it through though and here I am! YAY! However, I never stopped remembering what that felt like when the people around me didn’t get me or didn’t “see” me.
When I was a teacher and then a parent, I also had a lot of kids like me in my classes and in my own home. I also had kids with worries and other challenges that made learning and just being, pretty tough. I knew then that I wanted each of these kids to see the bright side…the things they could do and the ways in which their struggles helped them. As an author, this message and mission continues to be really important to me. I want kids to see how amazing they are and how we all have our own stuff to deal with and work on, but we have to love it as much as the good and easy things about us.
Unstoppable Me is my ode to the energetic kid. Of course, the labels like ADHD were on my mind when I wrote it because they are so prevalent nowadays and I know firsthand that for caretakers and educators this can be a bit scary to face and figure out how to approach. I am not suggesting that a positive attitude will make it all better, but I am saying that pointing out the positives sure can help! It’s my belief that the more we hear negative things about ourselves the more we embody them, and our behavior reflects that. Sometimes just a shift in perspective makes a big difference.
People thrive and learn in many different ways. There is no perfect and no one way to do anything. It was important to me that the main character tell the reader all of the awesome things about him and show how good he feels about himself and all of his Unstoppable-ness! I love how Andrew Joyner showed the exhausted parents because that is very real but also depicted how they find the joy in their ever-moving child.
I hope readers of Unstoppable Me, both adults and children, laugh and see themselves and are ultimately reminded of how they can light up the world no matter simply by being JUST who they are!
Susan Verde grew up in Greenwich Village in New York City. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s in reading remediation and became an elementary school teacher at a private school in Bridgehampton, NY. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Am Human as well as many other picture books including I am Yoga and I am Peace. She currently lives in East Hampton, New York with her family.