Teen Author and Philanthropist, Alyssa, Takes on Bullying with Books
We’re so excited to feature our latest Extraordinary You girl. Fourteen-year-old Alyssa B. Antoci is a true world changer and crusader for her cause. At just eight years old, Alyssa wrote her first picture book called The Purple Marble. Her story was inspired by one of her close relatives and his experiences with bullying at school, and then her own experiences with unkind classmates.
Today, Alyssa is working hard to gift copies of The Purple Marble to schools all across the country. She even wrote discussion questions and other materials to help teachers provide coping skills and awareness to their students. How awesome is that?
Besides writing, Alyssa travels to schools around California to share her story and her journey as a young writer. For fun, she loves to competing on the junior rodeo circuit, as well as caring for animals on her ranch. We’re honored to share her with you, today!
- Tell us a about how you become so passionate about bullying.
I became passionate about bullying because I was bullied myself. Then, I heard a family member’s story about how he was bullied for being overweight. I wanted to share the story with others and help kids break the circle of bullying.
- If you witnessed a young person being bullied, what would you say to encourage him or her?
If I witnessed a young person being bullied, I would advise them to tell a trusted adult and help them find the word or words to help them to stick up for themselves. It is much easier for me to tell younger kids how to use their words and body language to get their message across that bullying is not okay.
- If you could tell a bully anything from your own heart, what would it be?
I wish I could tell them the reason they themselves are bullying is because they are hurting in someway and should talk about it instead of taking it out on someone else. Most kids that bully have been bullied themselves by either a parent, friend, acquaintance, or sibling.
- Your beautiful and powerful children’s book, The Purple Marble, tells stories of bullying and provides hope and coping skills. Can you share about actually writing your book, the journey from student to author?
Well, when I decided I wanted to share my family member’s horrific story about how he was bullied, I started writing my book at age eight. As time went on, I got busy with school and horses and I set my book aside. At age eleven, children’s author Sheri Fink came to speak at my school. She inspired me to finish and publish my book as she believed in my message and book. We published my book when I was eleven years old and I began speaking at schools at that time as well. I had to rewrite and edit with a editor who helped me finish it so that it could be ready to publish. This took many rewrites. When I was finally done, I was so excited to get the first batch of books.
- How can friend groups at school or in other environments create a culture where bullying isn’t tolerated?
Friend groups at schools and in other environments can start an Ambassador Program like ours where peers are creating kindness activities and projects around school to get everyone excited about being kind. Also, I believe my book for grades k through 5th starts the discussion and shows the viewpoint of the bully, the bullied, and the bystander. All of whom play very big roles in the circle of bullying.
What’s Alyssa working on right now? She and her mother have started a GoFundMe campaign to get The Purple Marble into as many schools as possible. Donors can also recommend a school or library they would like to see The Purple Marble gifted to. Alyssa is currently working on her first young adult novel, as well. You can learn more about her projects here. Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your story and being an inspiration. You truly are extraordinary.