top of page
Search

I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots by Lid’ya Rivera

Updated: Apr 2

Lid’ya Rivera shares I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots (HarperCollins), a lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance, and loving the skin you're in that will inspire all children to appreciate their spots or what makes them different. Illustrated by Niña Mata.


Listen along:




About the book: I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots by Lid'ya C. Rivera; illustrated by Niña Mata. Published by HarperCollins.



A young girl with vitiligo celebrates her skin in this joyful picture book by debut author Lid'ya C. Rivera and illustrated by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Niña Mata!


This lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance, and loving the skin you're in will inspire all children to appreciate their spots or what makes them different. Perfect for pairing with I Am Enough by Grace Byers, Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller, and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes.


Includes a personal letter from the author and facts about vitiligo.



Episode Transcript:


INTRO


Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.


I am a teacher, a librarian, a writer, and a fan of kids. 


Stories can help us feel seen, valued, represented. Stories can also help us to see, value, and understand others who are different from us. Books that act as mirrors. Books that act as windows. 


Today I welcome Lid’ya Rivera to the podcast.


Lid’ya’s debut picture book, I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots (HarperCollins), is a lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance, and loving the skin you're in. And it will inspire all children to appreciate their spots or what makes them different. It’s illustrated by Niña Mata.


Let’s step into my conversation with Lid’ya Rivera. Ready? Here we go.



INTERVIEW


Lid'ya Rivera: Okay, so I am Lid'ya C. Rivera. I am a published author. I am a filmmaker. I am a vitiligo advocate, a confidence coach, and recently retired Navy veteran. And I am the author of I Absolutely, Positively, Love My Spots. So remarkably illustrated by New York Times best selling illustrator, Niña Mata.


Matthew: You, you know, it's like a good thing when you get a great illustrator.

Not that there are bad illustrators, but there are some illustrators that you're like, oh, this is the picture book magic that's happening. Now that you and me are together, you know that. 


Lid'ya Rivera: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it's just so wonderfully made when you have a wonderful, wonderful illustrator. So thank you, Niña.


Matthew: Okay. So Lid'ya, I noticed that your skin looks different above your eye. Has your skin always looked this way? I know that we are operating on an audio format and I'll make sure I edit and we'll have your author photo there and all of that'll work. But, um, I wonder if your skin has always looked that way.


Lid'ya Rivera: So Matthew, my skin has always looked this way since I was about a day old. Um, so yeah, um, my mother noticed, uh, once I was born, maybe like a day or so after I was born that my skin on my left side of my eye was a different color than the rest of my skin. And so all of my life, I have been living with this rare skin disorder called vitiligo.


Matthew: It is rare, but it certainly connects you with a lot of kids. I've taught a number of kids with vitiligo. You can imagine as a librarian, how excited I am. I'm like, I have a book in the library now. It's so good. 


Lid'ya Rivera: Yeah. Yeah. You know, that's so awesome to hear that, that you've actually had interaction with children that have vitiligo because it is rare, but people don't really realize just how common it actually is.


Matthew: So that's not in any way to diminish. your story, but I feel like that becomes, especially with the internet, we realize that we're not as alone as we think. Things are rare. Community is there. There's, there are ways to, to feel not as alone. 


Lid'ya Rivera: Yeah. 


Matthew: Right. 


Lid'ya Rivera: Absolutely. And the word that you use with community, 


Matthew: um, 


Lid'ya Rivera: That's a big word.

So huge word. 


Matthew: Lid'ya, does the part of your body affected by the vitiligo feel any different? Does your skin feel different than the rest of your skin? Or does it, I guess the other question, which you shared a little bit is, does it, does it make you sort of emotionally feel different or did it make you emotionally feel different?


Lid'ya Rivera: So physically, um, if you were to touch the part of my skin that has vitiligo in comparison to the skin that does not have vitiligo, it feels the same. It's, there is, you know, it's the same. There isn't a part that is raised higher or rough or anything. It feels just like, you know, the rest of my skin. Um, however, emotionally, that's where a lot of, you know, the turmoil and the challenges that I face, um, emotionally, that's where I felt.


Vitiligo, even though to everyone, you know, you can see it clear, you know, clearly my skin is different, but emotionally is outcasted the most. Um, being in TikTok, being teased, and just feeling like an outcast, um, affected me more so emotionally, especially when I was a kid. Now, I'm good now, but as a kid, absolutely.


Matthew: It's so hard as a child. to feel that you are different in any way from the rest of your peers. We love sharing messages. I think us grownups love to protect kids by saying, no, no, no, you're special. You're different. But to live that life as a child can be really hard to go. I don't want to be different. I want to be like other kids.


That's certainly my story. Certainly things that I went through was going. I didn't want to be different. Um, but I'm, I, I, I found that support network and I, uh, found love for myself and I had tremendous friends that loved me and helped me to love myself. Um, I would love to ask you, uh, we've been talking around this word, but I don't know if we've been super explicit with it.


What is vitiligo? Is it something that Uh, you're born with, you were born with, is it something that typically, uh, people are born with or can, can it be something that comes on later in life? This is allergies in our family. Born with allergies, but also you gain allergies sometimes later in life. It's a different thing, but it's the same thing.


Lid'ya Rivera: Yeah, I get it. Um, so, vitiligo, quite honestly, it is very random. Um, some people are born with it, um, some people, you know, They get the diagnoses when they're about four, sometimes 44, sometimes 84, um, it happens randomly in, you know, individual's lives. And I know people who have had it since birth, and I know those who have recently, um, gotten vitiligo, and they are well over 40, 50 years old.

So. Yeah, I mean, and then, you know, we always hear, you know, well, is it hereditary? Is it genetics? Well, I hear that it can be hereditary. However, I don't have any one of my family that has vitiligo, and I'm a mom of four, and none of my children have vitiligo also. So, it's, it's, in my a second and celebrate?


Matthew: You're a mom of four. Yes, I am! Right, mama, that's wonderful. 


Lid'ya Rivera: I am. Absolutely. 


Matthew: But they also are similar to, um, to the skin condition that I have that we see it in my kids. It could be hereditary, it's not, it's whatever. You know, the way that we're all made is such an interesting thing, isn't it? 


Lid'ya Rivera: It really is.


And you know what? I tell people all the time, if we were all created the same, this world would be so bland and boring. Okay? Like, I enjoy now, you know, because I have gained this sense of self love and self acceptance for myself. I have gained this true, just beauty of being different and standing out and not fitting in, right?


I enjoy being different. And I think that it's really important that us as adults push this, um, you know, to our children, like it's okay to be different. It's okay to stand out, you know, and not try to fit in, you know, we're not a puzzle piece. We're our own individual being, and we should enjoy that. 


Matthew: It makes me also think about how sometimes the questions that we ask as children come from a place of curiosity, but we don't know how to ask them the right way.


And so it can feel like othering, or maybe you're around groups of kids that make it into othering. But I know that probably some of the questions that I was asked as a kid really were kids just asking, why is your skin like that? Yeah, in my brain, I heard it as why is your skin like that? Like they were accusing me of something that I couldn't help.

But also I feel like having devoted my life to working with children. I feel like children have an amazing capacity for empathy. and for drawing people in and they just want to understand when it's something they haven't seen before. Lid'ya, what was it like to be a kid? This is a complicated question, I'm realizing as I wrote it down.


I wrote, what was it like to be a kid with vitiligo? Not in any way that you're a monolith for vitiligo, but also you had stuff going on as a kid, but you also had vitiligo. I wonder Just for you in the context of this conversation, what was being a kid like for you? 


Lid'ya Rivera: Oh my God, hard. Um, very difficult. Um, you know, you mentioned a question, you know, what's that on your face?


And that was a question I've probably heard every day of my life as a kid. And, you know, now that I'm an adult and I look back at, you know, the questions, the curiosity. Um, of my peers, they really just didn't know. And unfortunately for me, I didn't have a diagnosis then. So I didn't know. So I didn't know how to respond to those questions.

I didn't have an answer. Um, all I would say is, Oh, this is just my skin, you know, but I didn't know. And being a kid, not knowing what's happening to my skin and my peers around me. They were just not okay with being around me. Like I didn't have the friends. I didn't have the crushes. I didn't have that, you know, because people were, kids were uncomfortable being around me.


And when kids don't know how, they don't know about something, they don't know how to respond to it. So, therefore, that's when the bullying and the name calling and the teasing and the, the names I remember to this day, like Dalmatian and Two Face and Scarface and Kyle, those were their way of, you know, addressing what was going on with me, but you also said something.


I didn't have any control over my skin. I didn't have any control over it, you know, so they were curious and I didn't know how to, you know, answer their questions. I didn't know as a kid, so it was tough. I will say it was tough and that's why it was just so important that I wrote this book as well because I've been there.


I know what that was like and I don't want another kid to go through the same. 


Matthew: I am so grateful that you chose to use your lived story to make something beautiful this way that I'm just going to say to you directly outside of the recording, I'll cut myself out of this, but I love Lid'ya that it isn't, look at me.


This is my biography of me, the individual going through this, but rather this is any kid. This is any kid who has vitiligo. You're going to see children, be with children, share a classroom with children. Sometime in your life, you will cross paths with an individual who looks different from you. Let's put ourselves in their feet and know that this is a beautiful celebration.


And here's all the beautiful words that you are giving us to talk about it. I feel like, God damn, how empowering you wrote this book that as a reader, you're giving us the words to say. So I want to ask you, I know you're, you're with children, you're, you're raising children, but you're also with children.

I'd love to ask you how our listeners, our, our six to 10 year olds listening, how might we approach with love and understanding the differences we see in one another? What are your thoughts on how



As we're thinking whatever, how might we help to better direct the words that come out of our mouth, the actions that, that, that, that, that we, uh, may not even be conscious of happening? What's your thoughts on that? What's your advice? 


Lid'ya Rivera: Kindness always. It costs nothing to be kind. Um, to simply, you know, treat people how you would want to be treated.


To, you know, address people how you would want to be addressed. Um, simply through just being a kind person. And that's something that we all have within us. You know, our kids, you know, they really do have a sense of, um, compassion. They do have that. And, And just simply being kind, I think, honestly, is the key.


Kindness is the key. I believe also kindness is the key. Kindness is the cure, um, to anything, um, you know, that a child with vitiligo or psoriasis or freckles or braces or glasses or a disability or anything that makes them stand out from their peers, simply being able to approach people with kindness and also being able to receive that kindness because what I also have learned is that Children, they tend to project off of their own insecurities.


So when they're dealing with something on their, on their own, whether it's something they don't like about themselves, that's different. Um, they tend to talk about another kid and it's like, no, just accept one another, accept one, who you are. And that in turn makes it easier for you to accept others for who they are.


And again, just approaching that with kindness and understanding, we're all born to stand out. We all have a light within us and the world just needs to see that light shine within every individual child. 


Matthew: Oh, I am hugging you for that response. That is so good. Thank you. That was quite an embrace, those words. Dyou mind reading an excerpt to us? The beginning of the book, whatever you want to read. Do you mind reading a page or two to us? 


Lid'ya Rivera: Absolutely. So when I, um, I'm going to read this the very first couple of pages, if that's okay, because the book itself starts off so bold and I just have to share. So the first couple of pages, it starts off, I stand up and I stand out.


I am the light and the spark. I was created special. with my many beauty marks. Some people call them patches, and ask me, why I have dots? Some people call them blotches, and ask me, why I have spots? But my mama says with love, vitiligo makes you you. And my papa says smiling, your royalty, through and through.


And what I love about what I just shared, um, was not only does she have this sense of boldness and love for self, but it goes back to that word we use with community. and support from her mother and her father. So for parents also that have a child born different or born to stand out with vitiligo, the love from a mother and a father really, really makes a huge difference in how a child sees their true self.


It's, it's just so positively impactful. And, ah, So excited to share. 


Matthew: I love that. I always bring up this quote because I, it's on my heart. Stephen Sondheim wrote into this musical called Into the Woods, where as a character saying, be careful the things you say, children will listen. And it reminds me always of how we grownups are modeling in the way that we walk through the world.


We're modeling how they should as well. Uh, this has been. Such a distinct pleasure. I'm so glad your microphone worked. This was wonderful. I asked this question of all of my guests and we are on summer break, but there will be kids listening to this and I will share this message when I'm back in front of children.


So Lid'ya, I'm going to ask you, I will see a library full of children soon. Is there a message that I can bring to them from you? 


Lid'ya Rivera: Yes. You let them know that Lid'ya C. Rivera. I truly, truly believe that in our skin, we will always win. And that is always, that's also on the back of the book also. And it says, love the skin you're in and you will always win.


So please share that with all those wonderful kiddos. 


Matthew: You know, I will Lid'ya, where can we find you online? Where can your readers find you? 


Lid'ya Rivera: Yes, so I am everywhere, honestly. My website. Lid'ya, L I D Y A C Rivera. com. I am also on social media outlets. All you have to do is just look me up under my name, Lid'ya C Rivera on Instagram, Lid'ya C. Rivera. And also if you're looking to purchase, I absolutely, positively love my spots. You'll find this book anywhere books are sold, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and at your local bookstore.


OUTRO


Matthew: Thank you to Lid’ya Rivera for joining me on The Children’s Book Podcast. 


You can pick up your own copy of I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots wherever books are found. Consider supporting independent bookstores by shopping through Bookshop.org. You can also use my affiliate link by clicking on the book’s name in our show notes.


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins (https://stebs.design/). 


Our music is by Podington Bear. 


Podcast hosting by Libsyn. 


You can support the show and buy me a coffee at www.matthewcwinner.com.


And on that note…


Be well. And read on.



End Of Episode

26 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page