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Meet Rachel Tepfer Copeland of Mighty Me Publishing in Katy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Tepfer Copeland.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of becoming a children’s book author. I love what a huge difference books can make in our lives — from transporting us to places we have never been and opening our mind to new experiences, to serving as a means of education and even support through bibliotherapy.

While writing children’s books has always been a dream of mine, I fell into it more from necessity rather than by plan. One afternoon I went to pick up my son from preschool and he was very obviously shaken and upset. A generally chatty guy, I was concerned when he had a difficult time telling me what had happened that day. The most I could gather was that the class had played a strange game where my son had hidden in the dark behind backpacks. Then it dawned on it me, it was a lockdown drill. The more questions I asked, the more concerned I became. We quickly turned the car around and headed back to speak with the preschool director of the highly vetted private preschool he attended.

After further conversation, I found that my son had become scared, overwhelmed, and upset during the drill because he did not know or understand what was happening. He did not feel comfortable hiding with the class in the tight quarters of the small bathroom and became upset. In an effort to make him “more comfortable,” the teachers removed him from the bathroom and placed him, alone, in the darkened classroom. He was told to hide behind a backpack located right next to a large window by the door and to stay there until someone came back for him. Then the teachers went back inside the bathroom with the other children and locked the door. I was furious, I was heartbroken. But more than anything, I was scared.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2004, my job has always been to talk to children about scary and overwhelming situations and to make them easier to understanding. Reading books to children is an amazing way to take something terrifying and make it relatable, especially for the very young. Social stories are one of my favorite means of preparing children for difficult situations. I love social stories because they are perfect for children of any ability, as they are a positive, empowering story written in a first-person perspective, which encourages and empowers children to learn new skills.

After my son’s horrific experience, I searched everywhere for a book with easy to understand directions that would be appropriate for my son to learn about lockdowns and how to keep himself safe. However, no matter where I looked, I could only find books for much older children. There was nothing age appropriate or all-encompassing in a social story format. Additionally, all of the resources I found discussed option-based teaching (i.e., run, hide, fight). While these are sometimes successful options for adults, research shows that options-based teaching is neither developmentally appropriate nor feasible for children or children with special needs.

After searching the market and finding it bare, I decided to write my own book for my son. Originally, I created a single copy of my book “I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown” just for him, however, after the Santa Fe school shooting occurred so close to home, I decided to self-publish the book to make it available to anyone who might also find it helpful.

The second book in the Super Safety Series, the newly released “I Can Be A Superhero During A Fire Drill,”, was created upon the request of multiple teachers, parents, and mental health professionals. It has already received a #1 New Release in multiple categories and the praise and endorsement of the largest K-12 safety organization in the world, Safe Havens International. The Super Safety Series aims to decrease anxiety while teaching children of any ability lifesaving safety skills in an engaging, child-friendly, and developmentally appropriate mentor text.

My husband and my family have been a huge support to me and have encouraged me along the way, and for that I am so thankful. I live with my husband and our two small kids in Katy, and they continue to be my daily inspiration and the reason for doing what I do.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Self-publishing a book is certainly not easy! It involved multiple hours of research about the steps to publishing, learning how to advertise, researching the topic, finding an illustrator that fits your vision, finding an editor and a formatter, and all the little steps in between from copyright to getting a Library of Congress number– it’s overwhelming just to think about! And that’s only the beginning! Surprisingly, writing the book is the easy part, it’s the advertising and networking that follow after it is published that are the real work. But I would encourage anyone who has the passion to pursue it. Making a difference in people’s lives is always worth the time and effort.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The goal of Mighty Me Publishing is to publish books for children of all developmental abilities. My books aim to decrease anxiety while teaching children lifesaving safety skills. Child-friendly and developmentally appropriate, with engaging illustrations, the empowering books in the Super Safety Series are all created in a social story format. While there are many different children’s safety books out there, there are a lack of books created for kids of any developmental ability and there are even less books available in a social story format.

Social stories are easy to understand stories written in a positive, affirming, first-person account. The goal is to provide new or potentially upsetting or distressing information in an easy to understand and follow format. In this way, the stories can become like a script for the person to learn and memorize. Social stories were originally created for people on the spectrum, however educators and child-development specialists are now finding they are helpful for anyone!

The book “I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown”, has now reached best-seller status on Amazon. Multiple schools across the country have adopted it into curriculum and it has been endorsed by several safety organizations and well-known safety professionals, including the nationally known Safe and Sound Schools and Safe Havens International, Inc.

What were you like growing up?
My dad was in the Air Force so we moved every 3-4 years growing up. Because of this, I have had the opportunity to meet many different people and have many different experiences. Growing up, I lived in California, San Antonio, Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, and Houston. I am the oldest of four kids– two sisters and a brother– and have a very close family who thrives with laughter and sarcasm. My mother was a stay at home mom until I went into high school, and then she went back to college to pursue her Masters degree in counseling. Her mission to help others, as well as my dads service and dedication to our country, taught my siblings and I a lot about the importance of making a difference and serving others

School was always difficult for me and it took me a lot of effort to learn how to read– but once I got it, I was obsessed. Since the second grade, I have always had a book in my hand, including even the walk to school. Even now, as an adult, I continue to typically finish a new book every 2-3 days.

Math was always very difficult for me and, after I graduated from high school, we found that I had a learning disability in math, called dyscalculia. Similar to dyslexia, people with dyscalculia don’t see numbers the same way that others do, and they tend to invert or change without our knowledge. However, I was determined to not let this fact stand in my way and I studied upwards of 8-9 hours a day with tutors and in the math lab for a single math class in college. Because of the support of my parents and my hard work and dedication, I was able to graduate my undergrad with honors and later receive my Masters degree.

Children, and especially kids with special health issues and special needs, have always been important to me. In elementary school, I volunteered my time to work with the special education class and found a love for making a difference with kids.

Pricing:

  • Paperback books are $11.99
  • Hardback books are $17.99
  • Ebooks are $4.99

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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