First-graders don't normally have the expertise to tackle social issues through literature. But 6-year-old LaNiyah Bailey, author of Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, is all too familiar with the stigma and cruelty attached to childhood obesity. She sat down on Tuesday with her parents and NPR's Michel Martin to discuss what it's felt like to be bullied because of her weight, and how she hopes her book will help children and adults become more compassionate toward people with differences.
Although Bailey's situation is very unusual (her mother explains that she suffers from various medical conditions that contribute to her weight gain), the message is that no one should be made fun of because of his or her size.
What inspired the project? After being called "elephant" at school, Bailey says, "When I came home, I went upstairs in my room and said I want to write a book. And my mom told me that's good, and I told her what I wanted in my book and she wrote it down."
Bailey has engaged parents who have defended her against name-calling teachers and peers, tracked down a medical diagnosis, and encouraged her to stand up for herself and others. Hopefully her book can provide insight and comfort to kids who aren't so lucky.
Read or listen to the full interview at NPR.
In other news: Slide Show: Ten MCs With College Degrees.