Local activist teaches children about homelessness with new book

Local activist teaches children about homelessness with new book

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More than a decade ago Kathy Izard quit her job in Charlotte to devote her time to helping the homeless.

In 2016 she shared her story, publishing a memoir called The Hundred Story Home.

Now, she’s taking a new approach to solving homelessness, by getting the next generation involved.

“I think there’s something that we each can do and I think children are much more receptive to that message and their own power maybe sometimes than adults," Izard said.

That’s why she picked one story from her memoir for a younger audience, publishing children’s book A Good Night for Mr. Coleman.

A Good Night for Mr. Coleman was really about one homeless person that we housed, and maybe an imaginary little girl who meets him and really understands what it’s like for a man not to have a bed and what she does about it," she said.

The goal is to inspire children to make a difference.

“In the book Grace starts a lemonade stand and starts sending all her money to help some adults who are actually building a building for homeless people,” she said.

A group of fourth graders in Charlotte put together a reader’s guide for the back of the book. It gave them the opportunity to reflect on what they read.

“There’s so many people that didn’t have homes and we’re here in a nice house,” student Lilly Hobson said.

“They don’t have a bed to sleep in, they can’t brush their teeth in the morning," student Anne Gibson McBryde said.

They can relate to the young girl on the pages of the book doing her part.

“Makes me think about how many homeless people are here in Charlotte and how we can help,” student Holland Wilkins said.

Some of them are now volunteering.

“I feel bad for them so I wanted to start giving them food and water,” student Ruthie Hayes said.

The biggest takeaway is that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

“I thought homeless people were kind of scary, but after I read the book I realized that they’re nice and they just don’t have a place to sleep,” student Anna Grace Frenzel said.

That realization is just the start.

“Having kids understand that there’s something they can do, who knows what they’ll grow up to do in their lives? Something really big," Izard said.

A Good Night for Mr. Coleman is for sale in Charlotte at Park Road Books or online.

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