Updated: Feb 22, 2019
I can't believe this storytelling platform just celebrated its 3rd anniversary! When I launched People of Charlotte, it was a grassroots project from the heart. What started off as a collection of a few stories has now grown into a recognized platform in the QC with many loyal followers. I am so grateful to each and every one of you for sharing, caring, following, and supporting storytelling in our community. The site has been a labor of love, so on this Valentine’s Day, I thank you for returning the love.
While I have shared over 200 stories with the help of other storytellers, I have yet to share my own story—I never wanted to make this platform about me. While I am not sharing my story just yet, I do have another very important story to share with you.
The inspiration behind Mixed Nuts:
When my now fifteen-year-old son was three, a story popped into my head. I distinctly remember pulling out a piece of paper from my bedside table and writing a story to share with him. That story then sat in a drawer for over a decade until one day, a six-year-old boy reminded me to go back to it.
Through The Augustine Literacy Project, I fell in love with a little boy who had an unexpected, profound impact on me. During our twice-a-week tutoring sessions, we formed a special bond. But then one day, he wouldn’t speak or look at me. After patiently prodding him about what was upsetting him, he said, “You and I can’t be friends because you are white and I am black.” I was not prepared—I never expected this conversation with a child his age. My heart ached for him and admittedly, I was hurt too. We both fell into a moment of silence as I tried to find the right words. I placed my arm next to his little arm and said, “I think your skin is beautiful and I hope you think mine is too. You will always be my friend.”
After exchanging many affirmations of love and friendship, our session ended that day and my quest began for a book that would help teach about diversity in a non preachy, relatable way. I walked out of the library with books that only told half the story or didn’t really address what I was looking for: a relatable, educational story. I then remembered my book!
After many years, another labor of love is ready to make its debut, my children’s book, Mixed Nuts. To anyone who ever felt like they didn't belong, you do belong. It's my hope that Mixed Nuts positively impacts children, parents, educators, schools, communities, and mindsets.
Writers write because they feel passionate about their subject matter. It is my hope that the love we express to so many on this Valentine’s Day multiplies and manifests with each day we are given. Spread love everywhere you go. And if you have children, be an example of what a loving heart looks like. Books like Mixed Nuts are a bridge to very necessary and impactful conversations.
And now, I present you with my book, Mixed Nuts: A story and discussion about diversity and inclusion. I welcome feedback and ideas about how to pilot Mixed Nuts into our community and beyond. Thank you for reading this story!
Mixed Nuts: A story and discussion about diversity and inclusion
What happens to a community when different kinds of nuts come together? Let Mr. and Mrs. Peanut show you how a community can grow through diversity.
Mixed Nuts is a must-have story and resource about diversity and inclusion for our growing diverse world, helping children develop positive social attitudes, inclusion, and acceptance. Through the story, the characters ask children to be empathetic and to look at the world in a larger than me way. Unfamiliar characters help them to think about our differences and similarities. Children will learn to appreciate how we are better as a collective, to disengage from fear and engage with curiosity and kindness.
Readers, listeners, parents, and teachers will appreciate how the story is told in a non preachy way. The discussion section on diversity that follows the story allows for dialogue, self-reflection, and questions. Topics in the discussion section include:
What is diversity?
How are we similar?
How are we different?
What does diversity look like?
What is great about diversity?
What is challenging about diversity?
Mixed Nuts addresses an often difficult to discuss and sensitive topic that urgently needs to be dialogued with children from preschool and up.
From an English Language Learner Educator:
A delightful story with a powerful message; it has the ability to teach empathy, the gift of diversity, and acceptance to children of all ages. The resource at the end of the story is a valuable tool for any parent or educator. Mixed Nuts has become a treasure in my classroom library. -- Tara Brabson, ELL Teacher K-5, CMS
From a Board Certified Cognitive Specialist:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mixed Nuts. Mai-Lis did a great job appropriately collaborating and integrating culturally sensitive information in a unique and whimsical manner. It is beautifully illustrated and easily adaptable by all developmental ages. -- Beatrice (Bea) Moise, M.S, BCCS. Founder of A Child Like Mine, LLC, Board Certified Cognitive Specialist. Parenting coach and consultant. Writer for Charlotte Parent, and a contributor author in Southeast Psych's Guide for Imperfect Parents: A Book Written By Imperfect Therapists.
People of CLT publishes stories about everyday Charlotteans and Carolinians. We celebrate YOUR story because YOU matter. It is our mission to promote inclusiveness, unity, understanding, community, diversity, empathy, and compassion.
Stories have power—they teach, inspire, motivate, and challenge us. Stories help us to not only see others, but to see ourselves more clearly, as we connect with the life stories of those in our community; a community that is strengthened by the power that is unleashed by the collective energy of individual stories.
Want to share your story with People of Charlotte?
Email us at peopleofCLT@gmail.com to learn more!
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