Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
8:00 pm EDT
Saturday, May 15, 2021

One for the books

Everyone has a story, but some stories are more interesting than others. In fact, the stories behind this year’s crop of Extraordinary People will leave you fascinated.

Dealing with COVID-19 has been stressful for families around the globe, yet a Clermont boy and his mother found comfort penning and illustrating their thoughts about the pandemic.

Aiden Whitley, 9, and his mother, Kelly Whitley, are co-authors of “Together, We Can Say.”

“It wasn’t meant to be a ‘how-to’ book, but more of a self-awareness book to promote communication between parents and their children,” Kelly says. “Any time I would ask him a question, I would illustrate on that page what the mom might be feeling.”

Aiden did the same.

Together, they discovered the coronavirus pandemic was generating a wide range of emotions, especially in the early weeks of quarantine during Florida’s stay-at-home orders. Aiden wasn’t happy with the closing of his school and not being able to see his friends, and Kelly realized she wasn’t the only parent feeling anxious.

“We knew that it would be relatable; a lot of people were going through an emotional roller coaster with us,” says Kelly. “We thought, ‘We want to help people and let’s try help them now before it ends and is not really relevant anymore.’ We had no idea that it would still be so relevant.”

The duo self-published the book through Kindle.

“We felt we can get through this if we just think positive,” adds Aiden. “We really are all in this together.”

“Together, We Can Say” has been well-received. Teachers have utilized the book with their students during virtual Zoom classes.

“Friends have told us their children have really clung to the book,” adds Kelly. “It definitely has done its job; we have opened up conversation and made it a safe space for children to be able to have discussions with adults and parents.”

The book is available through Amazon for Kindle and is in paperback.

Aiden has a second book in mind he’d like to write and illustrate about a superhero dog with powers to saves cities.

“I’d like to be a lot of stuff. A writer, artist, animator, musician,” Aiden says as he ponders what he wants to do when he grows up.

With his first book under his belt, Aiden has already achieved success as a published author.

“And 2020 is a year I will never forget,” Aiden adds.