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BR Parents: Thrive - Young Writer Inspires Others to Overcome Bullying

First published in the February 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on the magazine's website.

After she experienced bullying, Holli A. Holland wanted to help other children navigate through the experience. The slower pace during the pandemic provided time for the eight year old from Baker to write and publish her first book, You Are Enough! She also created an accompanying workbook, You Are Enough: You are Beautiful, For You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. In a few short months, she’s already sold more than 250 copies.

Holli wrote to inspire others. “You don’t have to change your ways. You can be yourself, and you can accomplish things by being yourself,” she says. In the book, Holli shares her story of being bullied about her shoes. “I took it and I turned it into something positive,” Holli explains.

Holli learned a life lesson early when the child who picked on her would not apologize to her even when the principal told him to. 

“At an early age, she learned sometimes when people hurt your feelings, they’re not going to apologize,” her mom, Whitney, says. That story is included in the book as well.

“When she originally came to us with this idea at the beginning of the pandemic, I thought: we don’t have time for this,” Whitney says. She works for Southern University; her husband, Hansoni, is head football coach and teaches at Tara High School; and they’d just welcomed a new baby, Holli’s brother, Honor who is now one, so the family was busy. “Then the world shut down, and we had nothing but time,” she says.

The book took Holli a month to write, and with her parents’ help, Holli found an illustrator, Elsa Achu, who works from India. The time difference between the two of them was a bit of a challenge for the artistic process, but the resulting images were just what Holli had envisioned for her book. The family sells the book and workbook directly, and they are available now to order on Amazon.

“As a parent, it made me extremely proud to hear how much she wants to help her peers with bullying,” Hansoni says. “It’s just been a remarkable experience for her, and she has been humble through the whole process.

With a heart for service, Holli is an active volunteer, including volunteering with her church, Faith Hope and Love Worship Center. 

Whitney says that when she asked Holli what five things she would like for Christmas, she replied, “Help the homeless people, help the homeless people, help the homeless people.”

This summer, Holli hopes to begin working on her second book, which she plans to title Little Tears. “It’s going to be about grief from her perspective as a child,” Whitney says. 

Holli has faced loss, with the death of her pastor’s wife from COVID-19 early on in the pandemic and the sudden death of her uncle. “For a kid from the ages of seven to eight, she lost people that were really close to her, and she wanted to write about it, how you feel about that as a kid,” says Whitney.

The pandemic created other changes for Holli, who is a third grader at Southern University Lab School. However, Holli has really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn while at home in a much more quiet environment. “At school, a lot of my friends, they blurt out answers and they talk a lot,” Holli says. “On virtual, people can stay muted.”

Because her dad is a coach, Holli hopes to one day play football when she gets older. However, her mom isn’t too fond of the idea of her playing. “I told her she cannot,” Whitney says. Holli, however, does play softball, competes in beauty pageants, loves to read, and is in cheer with Baton Rouge Cheer Stars.