Our most recent picture book biography, Kati's TIny Messengers, written by me and illustrated by the talented Vivien Milden-berger, came out this week with Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. And also this week, Dr. Katalin Karikó and Dr. Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work researching mRNA and its application to vaccines, including the Covid-19 vaccine. I was so excited to hear they'd won that I leaped out of bed and started shouting!
Dr. Karikó's story is absolutely remarkable. She struggled to get other scientists to believe her work was even valid. Repeatedly, she was turned down for grant money, and yet she did not quit. She bought secondhand equipment and set it up at home so she could continue her research after hours and on weekends. She worked even harder!
I think when children are struggling to grasp concepts in school, whether in spelling, math, science, or even just as they are learning the art of persistence, they would benefit enormously from reading Dr. Karikó's story of resilience, determination, and focus. Plus, the entire time, no matter what setbacks she encountered, she enjoyed the work. She continued trying to puzzle out this new method of saving lives even when the outcome of an experiment was failure. She believed failure only served to eliminate one more barrier before finding the solution! I think children need to remember this. High scores and stickers and smiley faces are all wonderful. But the grit and determination you need to succeed in life often comes from learning how to deal with failure and struggle.
I remember trying to learn how to read when I was only four years old. I was sitting at home with this triangular board -- one side was a chalkboard, another a magnet board, and I can't remember what the last side was made of -- cork maybe. My brother was using magnet letters to try and help me. I was so frustrated! And rightly so. Most children don't begin reading until at least kindergarten, and I was only four! I sat there staring at the colorful letters and repeating the sounds. Then, finally, in a flash, it just clicked. I jumped up and ran to find my parents and tell them the good news! I think my brother was equally proud. I know it was a very long time ago, but I still remember that feeling of pride in my accomplishment, and he does, too.
Whether the avenue is curiosity or avid interest in the topic or even a school assignment that sparks a curiosity you didn't know was there yet, I hope you will pick up a copy of Kati's Tiny Messengers and learn about the arduous road she took to conquer mRNA and create new vaccines. The future is bright, and I look forward to even more breakthroughs in decades to come!
Here's how to order Kati's Tiny Messengers to share with your child, their teachers, librarians, and all the people in your life who need a boost to keep going, no matter what obstacles they are currently facing!
When Megan Hoyt first stepped into a tiny library in East Dallas and checked out The Fairy Doll, time stood still for one brief moment. A book! A lovely, magical book about a little girl, overshadowed and overlooked, the youngest of four, just like me! she thought. Rumer Godden gave way to Madeleine L’Engle and Frances Hodson Burnett. Soon, a sturdy, low-hanging backyard branch became a thoughtful spot where some rather large ideas began to take shape. If reading James Barrie can make a girl flap her arms and jump off a garden wall fully expecting to fly, books truly do pulse with life.