Please meet author and illustrator, Sivan Hong! She writes and illustrates the Super Fun Day Book series about neurodiverse kids. Avery G. and the Scary End of School is her newest book!
Avery G. and the Scary End of School by Sivan Hong
I really love how the Super Fun Day books all problem/solutions themes. For Avery G., the transition at the end of the school year worries her. She clearly articulates five reasons why the end of the school year is scary, and her reasons will resonate will all children, even those who are excited about summer. Her parents are very pro-active at finding solutions. Not only do they set up a summer schedule for Avery G., but they also reach out to the parents of her classmates to set up summer playdates. This helps Avery G. know that she will not miss her friends too much. I thought the solution of having Avery G. meet her teacher for next year was brilliant. We don’t always know who the teacher will be for the next year, but this kind of creative problem-solving models for parents how to help their children with tough transitions. If the teacher next year isn’t announced yet, just visiting the classrooms and meeting all the teachers that teach that grade would still be very helpful. In our school system, we do this as a “Step Up” day when kids transition to a new school (elementary to middle school, and again from middle school to high school). It works really well! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
We are giving away a signed copy of her newest picture book, Avery G. and the Scary End of School. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
Q1: What inspired you to write and illustrate the Super Fun Day Book series?
As a mother of two neurodiverse kids, it was critical for my boys to grow up feeling that same sense of pride about their brain differences; it was not enough that I felt this way. After all, why should they think of themselves as broken, when they are not? Their brains can do incredible things. They see the world in a different way. There are so many strengths in brain differences, that I wanted then to see those strengths within themselves and build on them. The challenge for me, as a mother, was how to do that.
Like many parents, when I looked for ways to teach my kids, I turned to stories – I turned to books. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that there were not a lot of picture books that showed neurodiverse characters. I wanted books that could mirror my children’s experiences wearing headphones, chewing gum, playing with fidget toys, and their comfort in routine and schedules. I wanted to provide them with these types of mirrors to normalize their experiences so that they could see picture book characters being just like them. I wanted them to see that their experiences while different, were also normal.
Q2: What inspired your latest book?
Avery G. and the Scary End of School is about the stress kids can feel at the end of the school year. Even though kids can feel excited about the summer, it is a big change to go from the school year with all its structure to summer with all its freedom. There are a lot of unknowns and unknowns can be scary. Teachers change, friends change, and saying good-bye can be hard. Kids are tired from doing their best during the entire school year and things that may have been easy in January, feel overwhelming by May.
It caught me by surprise that my kids felt real stress at the end of the school year. I have heard from many other parents of neurodiverse children, that the end of the school year can be one of the most challenging parts of the school experience for their kids. It’s just not talked about.
The goal of this book is to help kids (and their parents/teachers) work through those hard feelings and normalize them. The story includes both the triggers of stress and specific recommendations that parents and teachers can do to make the transition to summer much smoother.
Q3: What do you hope to accomplish with this series?
I never set out to be an author/illustrator, but I became one to fill this gap that I saw. I created the Super Fun Day Books series to show neurodiverse children facing challenges and overcoming them. My books are structured like social stories, which is a tool used in special education to help teach children about something that may be hard. The illustrations in the books are purposefully simple to help keep a focus on the story and the font is dyslexic friendly. All the books are available as audiobooks to make them accessible to all types of learners. (I happen to consume books best in audio format myself).
Q4: Why did you choose to publish your books independently?
I knew that the traditional publishing route would be slower than the independent one and that I would have less control of the process. As someone who likes to have control over everything, this route felt easier. I was hyper-focused on getting books like mine in the hands of children who could benefit from them. Control for me meant that I could make sure that the illustrations were simple and the font dyslexic-friendly. I was unsure about how the traditional publishing route would have responded to these factors. It was not something I felt like I had to fight when I could do it on my own.
I do think taking the independent route works when a book fills a specific niche. Marketing becomes easier when there is a clear and manageable market size. I knew my target market was initially parents, like me. I understood my market because I was part of it. Now that it is growing to include teachers and schools, I need to get additional support to help me understand those market needs.
Q5: What has been the hardest part of becoming an author?
When I started writing books and had an image in my mind of what the life of an author/illustrator would be like, I thought of J.D. Salinger – a recluse. I naively thought I could write my books and send them into the world, and that would be that. I did not understand that I was not just selling my books, but I was selling a public persona of who I am. As an introvert, this horrified me. Suddenly, I needed to be on social media, radio, and podcasts.
My perspective on neurodiversity was out there for public consumption. To be clear, I have no academic background that gives me an expert opinion on neurodiversity. I am neurodiverse myself and have two neurodiverse kids. I don’t mean to minimize my experience because it is real world experience, but it is a small data set; it has certainly not prepared me for the negativity of social media when people ask me for medical advice or psychological help. I now know that there is a way to report a suicidal post on Instagram but there is no way to know if the person who posted it got help. Simply put, I had no idea that this would be part of the “author life”.
Signed Copy of Avery G. and the Scary End of School GIVEAWAY!
We are also giving away a signed copy of her newest picture book, Avery G. and the Scary End of School.
To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Geek Club Books
Please click on each title below to download a PDF file for each one: