Rheon D. G⁠i⁠bson

April 5, 2023

April 5, 2023

“There is a single moment that started it all for me. I was working as an instructional assistant and helping to de-escalate an upset student when the student said something that stopped me in my tracks: ‘I wish someone understood me the way I understand myself.’ It changed everything for me.” 

“I went back to school to get a master’s degree in counseling, became a school counselor, and then started writing children’s books to try to help people better understand each other. The Dizz Wizz series focuses on the day-to-day adventures and setbacks of Dizz Wizz as his father, Papa Dizz, helps him navigate through each challenge.” 

“I truly believe that the best way for us to understand each other is to see ourselves in a story. In each of the Dizz Wizz books, not only do I focus on emotional intelligence and empathy, but I write the stories in a way that flips the stereotypical scripts often seen in our culture.” 

“For example, in Dizz Wizz Hungry Charlie, I reversed the typical helper/need roles by having Dizz Wizz, a Black child, learn how to have empathy for a new white student at his school struggling with food insecurity. Even the relationship between Dizz Wizz and Papa Wizz is intended to showcase a different image for strong fathers in the Black community.” 

“I strongly believe in hope and the transformative impact of positive storytelling. I’ve seen it play out as a school counselor and administrator. I’ve noticed that many students in my school face difficulties because they lack optimistic narratives that inspire them to believe in their own abilities. If they only hear negative messages that limit them to stereotypes, it’s much more likely that they will internalize these negative beliefs and find it harder to reach their full potential.”

“As I’ve shared these stories and worked with kids at my school, I’ve watched students transform into powerful, driven, and empathetic kids. It’s almost like these stories, and others like them, give the kids permission to be better.”

“My most recent project has been developing a curriculum for parents to learn a lot of the same lessons Dizz Wizz learns through his stories. There is no script for raising children, so I know real lasting change in students has to include equipping parents for the task.” 

“There is so much division and rancor in the public square. We are often too quick to judge, label, and assume something about people who are different from us. But I don’t believe we have to settle for that. America works best when we dialogue with generous assumptions about the other person’s capacity for good. I hope that through the work I’m doing, I can help that at least be true in my own community.” 

Rheon D. Gibson
Dekalb, IL

Rheon D. Gibson is the author of the children’s book series: The Dizz Wizz, and is a school administrator working in Illinois.