A thoughtful Dad created this innovative book to help his 5-year-old son cope with anxiety

Greg Sullivan says he never intended to publish his first book, Gregory Dragon Is Just The Same. It was around his son's fifth birthday and the Los Angeles-based writer and artist wanted to create something unique for his son's special day. At the time, his young child was going through a challenge familiar to most other kids around his age: wanting to fit in with his classmates. "He's tall for his age, skinny, and has a birthmark, all of which had him feeling insecure and isolated," Sullivan said.


Sullivan wanted to create something that would help his son "not only embrace his unique characteristics but to celebrate them." And it just so happened that his son loves dragons.


Buy Now: Gregory Dragon Is Just The Same by Greg Sullivan; $9.99 on Amazon


As an award-winning artist, animator, screenwriter and novelist, it made sense for Sullivan to put his professional skills toward something creative and practical for his son's development. In 2019 his animation work with NASA and JPL for the Mars Insight mission earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. His screenplays have garnered multiple honors and appear on various important-sounding lists, including the prestigious Black List.

Gregory Dragon Is Just The Same switches up the traditional children's book narrative. Instead having an omniscient voice making broad proclamations to a younger audience, he allows the young dragon character to take the lead. "I swapped the roles and had Gregory Dragon educate the misguided narrator," Sullivan says.

As one reviewer notes on Amazon:

"I loved how the author/illustrator used color to delineate between speakers. The eyes of each little dragon really captures the emotion he or she is feeling, and the lesson of how God made each of us in our own special way comes through loud and clear. The real little Gregory is blessed to have a daddy who loves him so much!"


Sullivan with his wife Angela and son, Greg. Image courtesy Greg Sullivan.


Like all great children's stories, Gregory Dragon Is Just The Same uses a deceptively simple storyline to communicate a powerful message that resonates with just about any child.

"Gregory Dragon is just like all the other dragons, or so the narrator says. But Gregory Dragon disagrees and refuses to let the story be told until he's had his say," reads a description on the book's website.

After giving the completed book to his son for his fifth birthday, Sullivan found out that he was sharing his present with friends at school and even other members of his family. "I was pleasantly surprised by how much it resonated with other kids. Hoping our little story would help children that were feeling isolated and insecure, Gregory (the boy, not the dragon!) and I decided to send the book into the world, and the response from all the 'little dragons' that have read it has been fantastic," Sullivan said.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.