SCC student publishes children’s book about love, inclusion and diversity

Published: 11/21/2019

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When St. Charles Community College student Audra Notgrass sees a problem, she has a hard time staying quiet. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I have two young children, and they have seen me march in various protests in the St. Louis area,” she explained. “They have helped me make signs and have engaged in conversation with me on why I protest.”

Like many parents, Notgrass often reads to her children. However, she didn’t feel current children books were tackling the issues that many children face today. So, she decided to do something about it.

“I decided to write a book of my own,” Notgrass said. “I chose the topic of immigration because it is one that touches all our lives. My children play with children who are immigrants or have parents who are immigrants. My children do not see the political issues surrounding their playmates; they only see the people.”

Notgrass describes her book, “Ellie Marches On,” as a gentle way to introduce the important of friendship and activism to young humans. It follows the story of Ellie, a “normal little kid.” The book focuses on her relationship with her friend Nafia, a new immigrant who is bullied at school because she is different.

“I wrote this book so my children can understand that when there is wrong in the world, they have the power to make change,” she added.

In the book, Ellie learns the importance of friendship and activism and learns about historical women who have made a difference in the world. Together, Ellie and Nafia participate in a march that highlights inclusion, diversity and love.

“Audra is a great student. She is extraordinarily engaged and a tenacious learner,” said Mitch Harden, psychology professor. She thoughtfully chews on every topic and is always engaged in class discussion. She shows a real care for the learning of her fellow students, often extending the conversation beyond the classroom.”

“SCC gave me a great foundation to writing my book,” Notgrass admits. “I am so grateful to the SCC professors who saw my potential and pushed me to move out of my comfort zone and tackle bigger writing projects and themes.”

“Ellie Marches On” was released at the beginning of September, and it was certainly a learning process for Notgrass.

“After I completed my manuscript, I began researching various publishing routes,” she explained. “I stumbled across an independent book publisher in St. Louis called Storybook Genius.”

She admits she “fell in love” with the books the company had published. She noticed the company was taking unsolicited submissions, and she immediately jumped on the opportunity.

“I submitted my manuscript,” she said. “Eight months later they contacted me about a contract!” 

Her book is already listed on sites like Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She was even invited to host a book signing event at Main Street Books in downtown St. Charles in November.

“The book signing event was fun. I had never done one before, or even attended one, so the whole process was completely new,” she said. “I am looking forward to more book signing events in the future!”

Nearly 75 people helped make the book a reality thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. Learn more about “Ellie Marches On” and get your own copy! 

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