Teaching kids lessons about the importance of kindness and acceptance isn’t always easy, especially given the rise in multi-faceted bullying and the overwhelming popularity of social media amongst youth.
Nonetheless, these are lessons that Will Mason, author of “The Boy with the Rainbow Heart,” an Amherst-native says are instrumental when it comes to helping kids build and navigate their moral compass.
It’s a story that comes from a personal place; one inspired by Mason’s sister - who happens to be gay.
“At a young age I saw the challenges my sister had to go through, just because she embraced herself. It was tough, especially as her younger brother, wondering why others didn’t,” Mason shared.
Topics like race, gender, sexuality, diversity - they can be complex conversational issues, even for adults. Mason knew, given his background in social work, for young minds talking about and teaching these values at a young age can how children view the world.
What started as a Kickstarter idea, has now touched the hearts and shelves of schools in various districts across Western New York, other states and even other countries.
While the book features a main character whose colorful heart reflects the LGBTQ community, Mason emphasized, “This book is for all kids. Kids of all backgrounds, kids who are still trying to find and figure themselves out - this is a story about the power of open-mindedness and how one element of change, in this case, a boy with a radiating heart, can change people's perspectives.”
To date, “The Boy with the Rainbow Heart", has raised over $11,000 on Kickstarter, which means, schools will get even more books then intended, spreading Mason's message even further.
“I wanted a gentle book that my sister could use and share with her kids, my nieces,” he continued.
“The Boy with the Rainbow Heart,” is set to be donated in schools in early November.
For more on, “The Boy with the Rainbow Heart,” visit the Kickstarter website.