It’s never too early to educate children about how to handle stereotypes and how to treat others with respect. A local chiropractor, whose practice is based in Detroit’s Millender Center, is the author of the book, “Let’s Change That,” which addresses the sometimes-complicated topics of diversity and inclusion that school-age children face.
This delightful children’s book, which was released late last year, received a gold medal from The Mom’s Choice Awards for its family-friendly message. It also received an Honorable Mention at the New York Book Festival and San Francisco Book Festival this year.
“I felt like this story is timely with all of the things that we’re reading about in the news. Prejudices are things that people teach their kids consciously and subconsciously,” said Dr. Bashar Salame, who created the bedtime tale for his son, Jude. “Kids are born loving and caring. The great thing about them is, they don’t discriminate based on gender or age the way adults do. They probably don’t even think about it.”
Dr. Salame said his five-year-old son requested that he create a story on the fly, but later kept requesting the story about Felix the cat nightly.
“Every night, I felt compelled to change the story and make it more entertaining,” he laughed. “When I started sharing the story with other people, I realized that there were many lessons and themes that other people can relate to.”
The book, which targets kids in kindergarten through second grade, features a cat named Felix who defies social norms to help a fallen baby bird and befriends a dog along the way.
“I intentionally used animals instead of people to convey the importance of intolerance and inclusion of those different than you,” said Dr. Salame, who emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon at the age of nine.
Dr. Salame, a married father of two, says he loves interacting with the diverse pool of people he meets through his downtown-based chiropractic business and hears a wide range of opinions on current events.
“For instance, I hear the way some people portray immigration in the U.S., but it’s impossible to build higher walls around this country,” he explained. “And if you look at big, successful cities around the world, they thrive partly due to their diversity.”
He says the book’s main lesson is to avoid judging people for their differences; However, when he began visiting area classrooms, discovered that children also learned compassion, friendship and gratitude.
“I say forget about teaching tolerance, and just don’t teach your kids to hate other people,” he said. “Watch the way you talk around your children and teach them how to respect everyone equally.”
Dr. Salame occasionally visits local schools to read to children and encourage them to pursue their dreams despite the adversities they may face.
“My hope is that my book and the concept of saying ‘Let’s Change That’ in a broader, transformative context is applied even to Detroit,” he said. “I love Detroit, but it is regularly listed as one of the most unhealthy big cities in the country. But we as a community can change that, too!”
He said he believes that Detroit is a hub for creative people and that the city is thriving again with an entrepreneurial spirit.
“The old image of Detroit as a manufacturing city is an outdated image now,” he said. “I love that so many people are applying new techniques to old things. People are repurposing old factories and making better use of green space around the city.”
“Let’s Change That!” was published by Ferne Press, a local Detroit-area publishing company, and is available on Amazon.com and at his website for $9.95.