DeKALB – A motivational discussion Rheon Gibson had with his son after a T-ball game led to the creation of a children’s book series.
“My son enrolled in a baseball program and had a horrible first game,” Gibson said. “On the car ride home, he told me he wanted to quit. I told him the importance of not giving up. I told him not to quit when things get hard in life, because that’s when we have to try harder.”
Gibson’s message of perseverance inspired him to write his first book, “Dizz Wizz: Speaking It Into Existence.” The book was published last July, and its sequel, “Dizz Wizz: Hungry Charlie” was published in December. The series will have a total of eight books. The third book, “Dizz Wizz: Officer Tennessee” will be published in May.
The books can be purchased online on Amazon, Walmart and Barnes and Noble.
Gibson is the principal of Littlejohn Elementary School in DeKalb and has a background in social emotional learning. He has earned multiple degrees from Northern Illinois University, including a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology, a master’s degree in school counseling and a master’s degree in educational leadership.
The Dizz Wizz book series is based off of real-life situations Gibson has had with his 8-year-old son Trey, nicknamed Dizz Wizz. The books’ characters Dizz Wizz and Papa Wizz are fictionalized versions of Gibson and his son.
The books’ “About the Author” section mentions that Gibson created the series as “a means to positively influence African-American students by seeing themselves reflected in literature.” The series is described as focusing “on important life lessons a young boy learns as his father guides him into maturity.”
“The series’ slogan is ‘Where we motivate, educate and elevate others to reach their maximum potential,’” Gibson said. “The books are all about motivating students to not just be smart academically, but also be well-rounded individuals. It teaches them it’s important to set goals, believe in yourself and to self-reflect to meet those goals. I want kids to know that you can achieve anything if you believe.”
The first book’s message is about positivity and the idea of “speaking it into existence.”
In the book, Papa Dizz tells Dizz Wizz, “What we think becomes what we believe, and what we believe inspires what we achieve. So if you think today will be better than yesterday, then you can make it better than yesterday, but first you must believe it is possible.”
The second book’s theme is food insecurity and helping others. Gibson is on the board of directors of Barb Food Mart, the school-based food pantry that serves families in the DeKalb School District.
The third book’s theme will be about breaking down misconceptions.
Billy Hueramo of DeKalb reads the first Dizz Wizz book to his children, 9-year-old Briseyda and 4-year-old Giovanni, before bedtime at least once a week. Briseyda attends Littlejohn Elementary, where Gibson is principal.
“I think the series is great for the kids to learn moral lessons from,” Hueramo said. “We’re all really proud of Mr. Gibson. It means a lot for the kids to see their principal, who is also a person of color, become a successful author. He is a fantastic role model.”
Sonia Salazar of DeKalb loves the Dizz Wizz book series because “it has so many good values and is so vibrant, with the colors and pictures.” Salazar’s children attend Founders Elementary, where Gibson was the assistant principal last year. She bought the series’ first book for her son.
“Most of the books at our house are for my daughters and feature Disney princesses,” Salazar said. “I love that this book is about a little boy and his dad. We didn’t have many books with minority characters, and the book series is something my son could see himself in and share with his dad.”
Salazar likes that the series takes place in a real-life school setting.
“The books take place in an everyday, real-life family setting and deal with the same real-life situations my children go through,” she said. “I also love the message, that even though things get hard, you don’t give up, you keep trying. Kids that are struggling can see how Dizz Wizz handled the situation with his dad’s help.”
Although the Dizz Wizz series are children’s books, Salazar said she’d recommend them to anyone, of any age.
“They have a positive message for everyone, whether you’re a kid, an adult or a senior citizen,” she said. “The books have really strong core values and a great message of positivity.”
Gibson said he has been shocked at the overwhelmingly positive reaction from readers of all ages and from around the world.
“The book sold out in France and Japan, and I was getting Tweets from London,” he said. “One parent messaged me about how [the first book’s] messages of ‘speaking it into existence’ and ‘today will be better than yesterday’ have helped her child through e-learning. I’m just glad people are embracing the books, learning important life lessons and becoming motivated positively.”