anti-bullying and social tolerance
The prevalence of bullying is everywhere, even in children's storybooks. And Elvis the Penguin is no different.
I didn't set out to write an anti-bullying message when I began writing Elvis the Penguin. My primary focus was writing a funny story, one that children would enjoy and could relate to. But in that process, as I pulled ideas from a child's perspective, bullying and teasing became a natural, organic part of the story. Which is pretty sad when you think about it.
I was bullied. You were bullied. Heck, even Elvis Presley, the world's most famous entertainer of all time, was bullied as a child! Prevalence doesn't make a thing right or even acceptable, and I grew tired of hearing stories of bullying. I want to see change occur in the world we live in, and it starts by ending bullying, and being more tolerant and kind towards others who are different from ourselves.
But how do we do that?
Soon after publishing the book, I came to understand that my little penguin could be used by parents and educators to open discussions about bullying. And hopefully, to give children the tools to protect themselves and report it.
To this end, I licensed ICare, a non-profit in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, to develop age-appropriate curricula based on Elvis the Penguin.
I invite you to use the ICare curricula to begin discussing anti-bullying and social tolerance with the children in your life. The curricula are free, although purchasing one copy of the book is required, and if you feel so inclined, I would greatly appreciate your making a tiny donation to ICare so they can continue to do their tremendously important work!
In 2015, Kara brought her anti-bullying program to 26 elementary schools in the Orlando, FL and Baton Rouge, LA areas where she read Elvis the Penguin to more than 15,000 school children.
If you'd like for Kara to bring her anti-bullying program to your school, email her today!
In this scene, the flamingoes bully Elvis about his hair, but his best friend, Lucy, stands up to the flamingoes, refusing to let them bully Elvis.
Others bully Elvis as well, and each time, Lucy immediately, and vehemently, comes to his defense.
Social Tolerance & Diversity
The Gang from the Bronx Zoo are different from the rest of the penguins living in the Habitat; they're culturally different, are an entirely different penguin species, and they act and speak differently. These differences cause them to seem threatening to the other animals, and consequently, their lack of acceptance keeps them isolated both socially and physically.
However, in the course of helping Elvis, the other animals get to know them, and soon realize that although they are different, they're still good folks. By the end of the story, they're completely integrated into the Habitat's society.
With the world, and the US in particular, becoming a greater melting pot of cultures and beliefs, we must teach our children to reach out in friendship to others, even those who don't look, act or speak like us.