A Writer’s Journey
PECE Parent Publishes a Children’s Book
Writing has always sparked a passion in Katt, whose daughter attends Skills for School preschool at Neighborhood House. Writing has been a way of healing, both for herself and as a way of helping others who may be experiencing similar traumas similar to her own. She has written mostly memoirs and nonfiction pieces, many unpublished, but while raising her daughter she decided to write a children’s book, which she went on to publish and donate the book to her daughter’s preschool program.
That book, published this past March, is called “Peanut’s BIG Adventure (Peanut’s BIG World).” It is a poetic story in which Peanut, a mouse, feels too small and insignificant to have any confidence. He gets the amazing opportunity to explore the world and realizes quickly just how BIG and vast the world is. He learns valuable lessons and meets many new friends along the way. The book hints at Katt’s own past, but it turns into a world of positivity, independence and encouragement.
Growing up in a small town in North Carolina was tough for Katt, who always felt “different” from others around her and often struggled with her own self-worth. She often felt that her own family didn’t accept her and treated her differently from the time she was born.
“I struggled with a lot of things [growing up].” Katt said. “My dad wanted a son. Up until I was born, the sonograms always said ‘baby boy,’ so there was a whole build-up of finally getting a son and then discovering I wasn’t as soon as I was born, and then having to settle on the realization that he’s not going to get a son. I guess I felt like I was in debt to them in some way. I was not meeting the expectations of my parents.”
Those struggles led to more difficulties and trauma growing up, which followed Katt into her adult life and led her to build relationships that were based on winning people’s approval. Some of these relationships were co-dependent and often abusive.
“I was just happy if somebody liked me at all,” she said.
Escaping an abusive relationship, she left her hometown in North Carolina, moved to Minnesota and took a brave step to start over completely.
“I moved to Minnesota to get away because my [ex-partner] was giving me nightmares,” she said, explaining that he had begun to stalk and threaten her. “I was trying to live by myself here [in Minnesota], but it just wasn’t happening. I just didn’t have enough peace of mind to be able to feel safe and secure alone. Luckily, [over time] it worked out.”
Shortly after moving to Minnesota, she moved in with her boyfriend, whom she eventually married, and together they have a daughter named Kava. Now, as they raise their daughter, they have each have taken steps that will allow for her to have a better childhood filled with love and support that allows her to be an individual, making her own choices.
“I never want Kava to feel she’s too little to accomplish something,” Katt says. Like the children’s book, and like the small mouse, Peanut, she knows that Kava can achieve big things and goes on big adventures if she sets her mind to it.
Katt and Kava are enrolled in the Parent and Early Childhood Education program at Neighborhood House, which includes Skills for School. Katt credits the program with helping Kava make new friends, learn compassion and boost her confidence.
“She has such a loving spirit and is very empathetic,” Katt said. “The teachers have told me if a child is crying and upset, she would hug them and help them feel better about themselves. She herself has confidence issues, but is always trying to build others up.”
When asked what Kava thinks of the book, Katt said, “She loves the book! She has a new appreciation for crows (one of the friends Peanut meets on his adventure), and the mouse is her favorite animal.”
Katt plans to continue writing, reflecting, and building her daughter up as well. Since she left North Carolina, she has written and published several books about her experiences.
“I’ve been writing since 2004,” she said. “But in March I finally was brave enough to put it out there.”
The Parent and Early Childhood Education Program (PECE) promotes school readiness for children ages 1 to 5 years old through one on one education sessions and group learning opportunities. Composed of three main components: Small Steps childcare, Skills for School preschool classes, and Thrive Family online and in-home visits. These activities are designed to address the unique barriers immigrant and under-resourced families experience in preparing their children for school. Our inclusive and culturally responsive early childhood services help close the gap in school-preparedness not just for the children, but their primary caregivers as well.
Note: Names may be altered or made up to protect the identity and privacy of our participants.
Support Katt’s work:
Children’s Book (Peanut’s BIG Adventure):
Jack the Crow T-shirt: (https://a.co/d/7VgHz9n)
Wild Willow: A Katt Meraki Trilogy (https://a.co/d/ciktio1