‘Lively Lila’ Author / Illustrator Ben Levey on Breaking Sigmas, and Celebrating the Uniqueness of ADHD

Ben Levey and the cover of 'Lively Lila: A Dance of Happy Discovery'

“…it’s essential to break stigmas and provide relatable narratives.”

‘Lively Lila: A Dance of Happy Discovery’ is a story of self-discovery and happiness that celebrates and showcases ADHD. The story follows a young girl called Lila who navigates the ups and downs of life with boldness and bravery.

For author and illustrator Ben Levey, ‘Lively Lila: A Dance of Happy Discovery’ is a chance to shine a light on ADHD positively and progressively.

In this Q&A we chat to Ben about the release of his brand new picture book, exclusively for our blog.

Hi Ben! Can you tell us what inspired you to write ‘Lively Lila: A Dance of Happy Discovery’?

Hello! The inspiration for ‘Lively Lila’ came from a deeply personal place – my fiancée who has ADHD. Observing her navigate life with its unique challenges and triumphs sparked the idea of creating a character like Lila. The book is not just a story; it’s a part of my heart and soul, an ode to all the vibrant souls out there, like my fiancée, who see the world in a unique and beautiful light.

How do you believe Lila’s story can inspire young readers to embrace being themselves?

Lila’s story is a celebration of uniqueness. Through her adventures, I hope young readers will see that being different is not only okay but something to be celebrated. Lila’s journey encourages embracing individuality, fostering self-discovery, and finding strength in one’s own “unique sparkle.” I want children to feel inspired to be themselves, unapologetically. It would be pretty boring if we were all the same, 

Talk to us about Lila’s “unique sparkle”. How did you approach portraying ADHD in a positive light while crafting Lila’s character?

I wanted to showcase ADHD as a different way of experiencing life, full of its unique challenges and triumphs. Lila’s “unique sparkle” represents the positive aspects of ADHD – resilience, creativity, and self-discovery. I aimed to depict ADHD not as a limitation but as a source of strength, embracing the joy and vibrancy that individuals with ADHD bring to the world. Showing you can approach life with a different beat and still have a great time.

You not only wrote the book but illustrated it as well. Is there anything specific you’ve included in the illustrations that you think will catch the eye or people should look out for?

Keen observers might notice Lila’s expressive dance moves that symbolize the ups and downs of life. I’ve tried to infuse the illustrations with energy and colour, enhancing the overall visual experience and creating a dynamic representation of Lila’s journey.

Can you talk about the importance of representation in children’s literature, especially when it comes to characters with ADHD? What impact do you hope Lila’s character will have on readers?

Representation is crucial in children’s literature, fostering understanding and empathy. For characters with ADHD, it’s essential to break stigmas and provide relatable narratives. I hope Lila’s character resonates with readers, creating awareness and understanding about ADHD. By portraying ADHD positively, I aim to contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape that reflects the diversity of experiences among young readers.

Creativity is one of the biggest themes of the book. How do you believe fostering creativity can be beneficial for children, especially those with ADHD, and how is it reflected in Lila’s adventures?

Creativity allows children with ADHD to channel their energy into positive outlets, fostering self-expression and problem-solving skills. In Lila’s adventures, her creativity is a driving force, helping her navigate challenges and find joy in the process. I hope young readers see the power of creativity as a tool for embracing and overcoming life’s obstacles.

When writing a book like ‘Lively Lila’, how do you navigate the balance between entertainment and education when writing for young readers? Particularly with a topic like ADHD.

Balancing entertainment and education is a delicate process. While by any means I’m no expert, I researched a lot and I aimed to weave educational elements seamlessly into the narrative, using Lila’s story as a vehicle for understanding ADHD. By making the journey enjoyable and relatable, I hope to educate readers about the condition without it feeling didactic. The goal is to provide both an entertaining story and valuable insights into the experiences of those with ADHD.

Finally, what do you hope readers, both children, and parents, will remember most from Lila’s story, and do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I hope readers, both children and parents, remember the celebration of uniqueness and resilience in Lila’s story. I want them to carry the message that ADHD is not a limitation but a unique way of experiencing life. I hope it’s an easy way to explain to children what a loved one or themselves might be experiencing. As for upcoming projects, I’m excited to continue exploring themes of mental health and diversity in children’s literature, sharing more stories that inspire understanding and empathy. Currently, I  have a book about chasing your dreams, in the works along with a book for children covering dementia and life & death, stay tuned for what’s next! There may even be a second book of Lively Lila’s Adventures coming. Like ADHD, you never know what surprises life will bring! 

‘Lively Lila: A Dance of Happy Discovery’ is published on April 4th 2024,

About Ben Levey

Ben Levey is originally a Chartered Project Manager in the construction industry from East London, but he has tapped into his love for the creative world through his fashion brand and now, children’s books.

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