Have you ever read a book about a girl in a wheelchair?
Probably not. My name is Melissa Shang and I’m 11 years old. Since I was born, I’ve had Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of muscular dystrophy. I love to read, and every week, I check out four books from the library. But I have never read a book about a girl who uses a wheelchair, like I do, as the main character.
Being a disabled girl is hard. Having muscular dystrophy means gradually losing the ability to run, walk, and even use a pencil, not to mention activities like riding a bike that other kids take for granted. Girls with disabilities have the same hopes and dreams as other girls, and the difficulties we face every day make our stories that much more inspirational. I don’t want another book where I’m just the side character who teaches the main character a lesson about being kind. For once, I want readers to know what it’s like to be me.
Last winter, my sister Eva helped me petition American Girl, my favorite line of books and dolls, to release a Girl of the Year with a Disability. Our petition gathered almost 150,000 signatures, and was featured in newspapers and magazines from Oprah Magazine to CBS to the International Business Times. Yet American Girl has not yet promised to tell the story of a girl with disability as the main character. Our stories deserve to be heard.
So, I’ve decided to write the book myself. With the help of my sister, we will self-publish a book about a middle school girl who has a neuromuscular disease, like I do, and tell the stories of all the girls who never get to see their own perspectives on the page. To publish the book, we’ll need your support.
Mia Lee just wants to fit in—but it’s near impossible when she has a disability. When other sixth-graders are hanging out their lockers between classes, she’s stuck in the handicapped elevator in her wheelchair with her aide.
When Mia hatches a plan to befriend the popular girls in school, she finds herself in a whole lot of drama with her aide Miss Jackson, her best friend Caroline, and even her cool college sister Ella. Can Mia survive middle school with a wheelchair, a sometimes-awesome-sometimes-grumpy older sister, and find a way to be “cool?”
Melissa Shang is a sixth-grader at Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle School and an advocate for disability representation. She has spoken at TEDxYouth@Hewitt, the United Nations, and the National Constitution Center. Eva Shang is a sophomore at Harvard University, as well as Melissa’s PR agent and #1 fan. Follow them on Twitter @shang_melissa and @eva_shang.
Risks and challenges
Although writing a book is a slow process, we are confident that we will be able to finish the book by September, and hopefully, will self-publish the book through CreateSpace, an Amazon subsidiary. If we have the opportunity to publish through a publishing company and no longer require Kickstarter funds, we will donate money raised to the Muscular Dystrophy Association to fund summer camps for kids with neuromuscular diseases.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)