Quite possibly our favorite (and youngest!) new author to date, seven-year-old LaNiyah Bailey knows a thing or two when it comes to childhood obesity and the bullying that can persist when your classmates have characterized you as "different."
Only six when she first published her inspiring children's book, Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, young LaNiyah is gaining plenty of props from parents and educators around the country for her youth advocacy and support of Obama's anti-bullying initiative.
Not Fat Because I Wanna Be details the story of little Jessica, who has an underlying medical condition that causes her to gain weight. Faced with ongoing bullying by her peers, Jessica learns to accept and love her body, and courageously stands up for herself, educating her classmates about her condition so that they can understand what she is going through.
"Always remember that you are beautiful no matter what someone tells you, we're all different in our own special way, " LaNiya writes.
Having based Jessica's character around her real-life experiences, LaNiya too has an underlying medical condition that has caused her to rapidly gain weight since the early age of three. Her parents first consulted a pediatrician and had her follow a strict diet, but it was apparent that something else was causing the problem. Now, at the age of seven, little LaNiya weighs in at over 100 pounds. From her past experiences of being teased by classmates, LaNiya writes that she learned the hard way that the "sticks and stones" nursery rhyme is not true.
With high hopes that her book will inspire children (and adults) to think twice before bullying others for being "different," LaNiya relays many brave and important messages throughout her story, including an overall pledge for young readers to consider:
"I am beautiful. I am loved. I will not let what others say define me. Bullying is not cool!!!"
Not Fat Because I Wanna Be has received rave reviews from parents and teachers alike, and this true-to-life story is being regarded as a "must-read for any classroom" by critics. To learn more about LaNiya and her ongoing youth advocacy, or to purchase her lionhearted, impressive new book, check out her website for further details.