By Robin Gibson
Lexi Gravino can already claim to be living an inspired life. The young Mount Pleasant writer and recent graduate of the University of South Carolina has succeeded in doing so by publishing a children's book, Spread the Love, with themes of inclusion and acceptance based on her brother, Zach, in mind. She stands to leave a mark on this world by improving the lives around her now and for years to come.
Gravino penned and illustrated the children’s book basd on Zach's experiences living with Down Syndrome. The plot centers around a town that lacks joy, compassion, and forgiveness. The main character, Lexi Lou, must share her words of wisdom to bring love and compassion back into the hearts of the people. In her own words, Zach is a great example of someone who embraces individuality, disregards judgement, and loves abundantly.
I wanted to learn more about this inspiring young woman and share with readers more of her story and that of Zach's. Read on to hear what she has to say about both, and what it was like for her to publish her first book.
Q: When and how did you decide to take your brother Zach's inspiration and turn it into a children's book?
A: For my speech class, I wrote a commemorative paper on my brother Zach. I always viewed Zach as the epitome of a genuine and self-less human who loves abundantly. There is beauty in his simplistic nature, which acts as a constant reminder to love one another. After reciting my speech, my professor came up to me with happy tears in his eyes and a grin on his face. He said he loved hearing about Zach and wanted to share my paper with his wife. I realized the unconscious impact Zach has on others. I knew that more people needed to experience Zach’s love. This was my lightbulb moment where I decided to write a children’s book.
Q: What was the writing process like? How long did it take you to finish it?
A: I’m a very determined individual. I wrote the rough draft of Spread the Love one rainy day, but I could probably keep revising it indefinitely. I wouldn’t consider myself a writer, so I often struggled with how to successfully portray my thoughts. The illustrations took me a few months, since I never created graphics before. It was definitely a learning process. The most important part to me was that the children’s book was a reflection of Zach.
Q: What are hopes for the future of this book? Do you foresee it being used as a teaching tool?
A: My hope for the future of this children’s book is that it fills someone’s heart with love and compassion. I would love to see this book used as a teaching tool to educate both young children, as well as adults, about inclusion. Although our differences make us unique, we are all more alike than different. I think people would be surprised about how much you learn from those who aren’t ‘just’ like you. Zach has taught me so much about being a kind, patient, and compassionate human.
Q: Will you continue writing? You're majoring in marketing and retail, but would you like to publish more books?
A: I definitely hope to continue writing, whether it’s for personal use or the public. I think it’s important to express what’s on your heart and mind. My background knowledge in Marketing has been extremely influential in helping me get my book to others.
Q: Do you have plans to return to the Lowcountry after graduation?
Yes; I recently graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Marketing and will be attending College of Charleston’s One-Year MBA program in the Fall.
Q: Anything else you'd like Grit readers to know about you?
A: I’m appreciative of the overwhelming support I’ve received. What was once a spontaneous and crazy idea has now become a reality for me. I’m so thankful to be in such an accepting and inclusive community. I’m proud to call Charleston my home.
Spread the Love is available on Amazon.