‘Actually, I Can’ by Local, Des Moines Author
What is Salix Kids?
Salix Kids is a business I started in March and run out of my home in the beautiful Beaverdale neighborhood of Des Moines. It started as a way to self publish and promote my children’s book, Actually, I Can and grew into a shop focused on bringing local and homemade educational goods to children and families.
What does Salix mean?
My name is Willow, and the latin word for a willow tree is salix. My dad is a scientist who studies pollen, so knowing the latin words for plants was a bit of a game in my family (clearly we were the coolest kids in town.) When I was naming my business I knew I wanted a unique name that would represent me and what I do. Salix Kids was the perfect fit.
Now, what about that book?
Actually, I Can is the story of Ruth, a spunky kid who loves to play. Recently, because of her age and gender, people around Ruth are asking her to let go of her favorite hobbies and activities. Ruth now has to decide if she will abandon her hobbies because of what others are saying or blaze her own path and gain self-esteem. Spoiler alert: It has a happy ending 🙂
How did this idea start?
I have always enjoyed writing, especially short stories. I wrote a lot in high school, but fell out of the habit in college. About six months after I graduated college I started teaching preschool and found myself reading an infinite amount of children’s stories. I noticed there was a lot to be desired when it came to children’s literature. It was hard to find stories featuring children of color and girls as main characters. It was also hard to find stories with a strong message, and when I did find those they were often boring and flimsy. It seemed there were mainly two options for children’s books; a fantasy or princess story starting white kids, or a painfully dry book with a title like, “Sharing is Cool!” I thought we could do better for our children, and for the parents who have the pleasure of reading these books over and over.
Let’s back up just a tiny bit- In college I received a minor in Environmental and Outdoor Education and Recreation (EOE). I know that’s a lot of words that don’t sound like anything but stay with me. EOE is a very holistic approach to education. One of the most important things we focused on was educational accessibility and cultural competence. It was through my EOE courses that I learned how important representation in media is, especially to children. I saw a need for stories with girls our children can look up to. And so, Actually, I Can was born. I wrote my first draft of Actually, I Can in the fall of 2018, and I got my best friend to illustrate it. It was officially published in ebook, hardcover, and paperback on March 20th, 2020.
Where is the book now?
Actually, I Can is available online from my website, Amazon, and Barns & Noble. I also have my first book signing, a socially distanced drive through, scheduled for July 18th at the state capitol. My hope is to soon get the book into local books stores, so keep an eye out for that!
Book signing event
About the Author
Willow Huber is an author, teacher, singer, and founder of Salix Kids. Willow’s goal is to create content and products for children and families that are positive, fun, and nurturing to children as a whole. With a B.A. in Political Science and Education, Willow uses these areas of expertise to blend social justice themes into stories in a way children can understand and appreciate. When she’s not teaching or writing, Willow enjoys camping, dancing, and traveling. Follow her on Instagram @salixkids for updates!