Guest Post by Michelle Meadows
When I was working on FLYING HIGH: THE STORY OF GYMNASTICS CHAMPION SIMONE BILES, I aimed to answer this question in an accessible way for young readers: How did Simone Biles become the greatest gymnast in the world?
I wanted to convey the parts of Simone’s life that would be most interesting to children, while at the same time highlighting some of the major factors that have led to her tremendous success.
Natural talent: From a young age, Simone was moving – climbing, jumping, and flipping. When Simone was 6, she and her sister Adria were supposed to go with their day care on a field trip to a farm, but it rained. Their brother Adam worked at the day care and suggested they instead go to Bannon’s Gymnastix in Houston. Simone began copying moves of other gymnasts. Her natural talent for the sport was evident.
Perseverance: With a typical training schedule of 32 hours a week, Simone practiced over and over again. It takes years of dedication, discipline, and hard work to become a champion. Children will see that Simone faced disappointments and how she bounced back and kept trying. This involved making sacrifices, such as when Simone gave up traditional high school for homeschool to get more hours training at the gym.
Strong relationships: Simone’s family has given her love, a solid foundation, and a sense of belonging. Her relationships with her siblings and parents have been sources of strength, and so have her relationships with other gymnasts and Coach Aimee Boorman. I think it speaks to the enormous impact of having people believe in you and being able to give that support back to others.
In FLYING HIGH, artist Ebony Glenn created beautiful illustrations that capture the high energy of gymnastics and the real emotions of Simone’s journey. With a picture book biography, my goal is to honor the subject and shine the light on a life that children can learn from and celebrate.
Learn more about Michelle Meadows at her website: www.MichelleMeadows.com.