Olentangy students learn self-confidence from children's book author


Wednesday, several classes at Freedom Trail Elementary School filled the school's library for a presentation from children's book author and illustrator Jason Tharp.

"I had a kid one time ask me: so when you feel like giving up, what makes you keep going?," Tharp explained. "Like that’s deep!"

Tharp encourages students across central Ohio to overcome bullying by embracing their "weirdness". It's a lesson he learned first hand when he was made fun of in the 4th grade.

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"Fourth grade was the first time someone told me I was a loser and I believed them," he said. "I had glasses that were the size of half of my face, my hair looked like maybe I combed it or I didn’t, and I wore a lot of hand me downs."

So, Tharp uses his own life experiences and turned them into children's books, which he illustrates himself. He then uses his book characters and teaches students how to draw them as a means of motivation -- showing each child that their interpretation of the character is as beautiful as his.

"What it does is— it stops you from thinking too much," Tharp explained. "What it allows you to do is tap into your subconscious mind, because you are just creating."

Tharp also talks to the kids about being kind to one another, even to bullies.

"It’s the unicorn effect," he said. "These kids have the ability — just by saying hi — to sprinkle magic on everybody’s day. It’s just this little tiny thing that you can do. And, it also builds confidence."

Tharp speaks at various schools across school districts. Click here if you are interested in him speaking at your school.