My book, Happy Dreamer was originally called Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer. And yes, the initials do spell: ADHD.
The first spark of the book ideas were inspired while attending a learning difference conference at Harvard University where successful CEOs shared their challenging learning journeys in school, making it clear that their achievements were made because of their brains, not in spite of them. It was pointed out by the panel host that this group had all described attributes of ADHD as children. Those attributes sounded very familiar to me.
I thought for a moment, "I wish ADHD sounded like something you'd WANT to have!"
I took a pencil and wrote...
I went home and wrote a poem by the same name and that poem ultimately became this book.
I wrote Happy Dreamer for kids (and grown up kids) like me. This really is my story. A peek inside my mind to share how my brain works in its own wild and wonderful way.
It wasn't always easy having a brain like mine though. While I was never officially diagnosed with ADHD (it was a term that would not be used widely until a decade after I was in elementary school) I do believe that as a child I had experienced many of its symptoms.
I wanted to send out a hopeful message that kids who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that they have a gift, not a label. That their minds are very special. That they are "delightful dreamers." Their brains are capable of being flexible, generous, nimble, and inventive. Their kind of thinking is to be understood, nurtured, accommodated and CELEBRATED!
Growing up, I was dreamer. A day dreamer. Night dreamer. I had a super-charged imagination which kept my brain very, very busy. SO many ideas which was probably the impetus for me grabbing a pencil and starting to capture these thoughts and images on paper with words and art. Outside of school, it really wasn't a problem. I grew up in a big family. Seven people roaming the house doing chores, hobbies, but at night we would gather together at the dinner table to share stories. It was a busy, noisy house and I loved it that way. All the energy and buzz. In school, however, it was a different story. I found it a bit of a shock to stay put in one chair for most of the day. Learning to focus on the lessons were sometimes a big challenge for me. I was not encouraged to capture any of my racing thoughts on paper. I was in fact, discouraged from doing it.
"All eyes up front."
"Mr. Reynolds, do not draw in my class. You can do that after school."
"This is math class. Not art class. Put that away."
I was an agreeable, friendly kid eager to please, so I did my best to comply and control my buzzy-brain. It was not always easy. Every so often, I found a teacher or an activity that tapped into that special brain of mine and WHOAH! Like my 7th grade math teacher who asked me if I could teach math by using art, story and animation. It was magic. I was in my element. It was an AMAZING feeling. Happy. Delighted. My Dreamer brain was engaged—and I was ME.
I hope this book speaks to you, your family and friends. May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers.
And in fact, I do believe that if we are to solve some of the planet's biggest problems—we can't keep trying the same solutions. We must invite inventive, flexible minds to the table. World problem solving aside—if this book encourages my readers to simply be happy with themselves, then I'll sleep—and dream— better at night.
In the Boston area? Join us for Happy Dreamer book release party at the Blue Bunny Books & Toys, on Saturday, April 1, 11-1 p.m, located at 577 High St, Dedham, MA 02026. For more information, click here.
For inspiration on how to bring Happy Dreamer into your classroom, check out the Happy Dreamer Classroom Kit.