California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Release New Children's Book Based on His Dyslexia Struggles

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom will be releasing a new children's book, titled "Ben and Emma's Big Hit," inspired by his struggles with dyslexia as a child. The California governor said that he hopes the book will help other kids experiencing this learning disability.

"Ben and Emma's Big Hit" is currently on pre-order with a confirmed release date for December 7. Newsom had the help of co-author Ruby Shamir in writing the stories while Alexandra Thompson did the illustrations.

The children's book spans 40 pages and is aimed at 4 to 8-year-old kids. Its focus is on children who discover that everyone has talents despite their difficulties in school. The book also imparts lessons about determination, hard work, and dedication.

The governor said that all proceeds of his children's book would go to the International Dyslexia Association.

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'Heart-Pounding Fear and Anxiety'

In a statement, Newsom said that he had "heart-pounding fear and anxiety" when asked to read out loud in class as a young student. He hated reading and doing book reports because of his condition.

"My self-esteem and my grades suffered until I learned about dyslexia and strategies for dealing with it," the governor said.  

In an interview with ABC News, Newsom revealed that he was diagnosed as dyslexic at age five, but his mother kept this information from him. As he grew older, his challenges with learning left him wondering why his younger sister was quicker with schoolwork until he found a document, at around 11 or 12 years old, from one of his mother's stash of papers about his dyslexia.

However, Newsom still struggled in high school and did poorly with his SATs. As he needed to go to college, his mother placed him in remedial classes to catch up. The governor also focused his energy on baseball, which got him a partial scholarship at Santa Clara University.

It was through sports that Newsom developed his confidence and self-esteem. After college, he worked in real estate as a sales agent. A few years later, Newsom thought he could become an entrepreneur if he found the right investors. With their help, he opened a string of successful businesses on San Francisco's Filmore Street.

By 1995, Newsom became active in local politics under the former Mayor Willie Brown. Serving at various boards helped him overcome his fear of speaking in public, shaping his future role as the governor of California.

Becoming a Father

The Democrat told Los Angeles Times how that the idea of coming up with a children's book about dyslexia happened when he became a dad. He wanted to read stories of it to his children to empower them, but he was surprised that there were not a lot of selections in the market.

So, he started discussing the project with editors and literary agents, who led him to Penguin Press, the book's publisher. 

His own experiences have also motivated the governor to help low-income families in California avail of health and developmental screenings for their children.

According to the Mayo Clinic, children who have dyslexia have normal vision and intelligence, but a part of their brain could not process spoken and written words well. Dyslexia has no cure, but the children could still overcome and manage their learning disability if dyslexia is diagnosed and assessed earlier.

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