Children's author discusses bullying prevention

Oct. 7—For award-winning Children's Author Claudia Villarreal, there are two important items that she hopes readers learn from her.

The first one is that there are no limits to what anyone can achieve, regardless of their background.

The second is to be kind and accepting.

Villarreal, who was born in Laredo and now lives in San Antonio, shared her thoughts on the subject of bullying to faculty and students at an event Thursday afternoon at Odessa College at the Jack Rodgers Auditorium.

"No matter your nationality or background is, you can do and become and set out to be what you want to be and start making differences," Villarreal said. "It doesn't matter that we don't make a difference in the world but if we make a difference to each other, even our neighbors, it counts. The biggest takeaway is that one, no matter where you're from, strive for the best and number two, strive to teach the best to others as well and be kind and accepting."

The event was a part of Hispanic Heritage Month but also coincides with Bullying Prevention Month.

"I was told that they were honoring and doing presentations here during Hispanic Heritage Month and they asked if I could come and I said yes, it would be an honor," Villarreal said. "We decided to do this in October because it coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month so I was brought here to talk about both things. I loved it. I'm glad I was invited over to present to the faculty staff and students at Odessa College."

Villarreal has held different jobs, which includes being an actress as well as a teacher and business owner in addition to children's author.

It wasn't until recently when she was drawn to become a children's author.

"I didn't choose to be an author," Villarreal said. "I was always a teacher and an actress but being an author chose me. Both stories came to me in the middle of the night. I woke up and wrote them down and I thought 'what wonderful stories.' Because I was a teacher, I really wanted to share these stories so that's what made me want to be an author. That's why I pursued it."

So far, Villarreal has written two books, "The Alphabet Thief Who Stole the Vowels" which has sold close to 25,000 copies to date and "The Bully Who Learned to Love."

It wasn't until 2018 when Villarreal started penning her second book which was "The Bully Who Learned to Love." The book was published a year later.

The goal of her books (targeted for readers ages 4-8) is to open dialogue about diversity and bullying.

"I'm so passionate about the subject," Villarreal said. "Not just because I was bullied but because now more than ever, I want to focus on being able to accept people's differences. Now, we worry that they don't have the same opinions as us and I want to bring us together and it starts when we're 7 or 8 because that's when we're forming our personalities. So the reason I'm so passionate about it is because I love the message. I want to do this and spread it to as many kids as I can because those kids that become kind and become accepting will grow up to be adults that are kind and accepting."

The style of her books are written in a style similar to that of Dr. Seuss.

"They were the books that I read to my kindergartners," Villarreal said. "(Dr. Seuss) is one of my favorite authors. The rhyming and everything kept kids' attentions and that's the reason I chose to write it in the same style because he was such a big influence on me. He's done wonderful works."

Villarreal signed copies of her books after Thursday's event.

She's currently working on her third book and is hopeful to have it out soon.

"I don't have a title for my third book yet but it does come back to the Alphabet Thief," Villarreal said. "That'll probably be ready in six months."