HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Kenseth, championship-winning race car driver, can now add a children's book to his resume.
Kenseth and his wife, Katie, released "Race Against Bullying" on Tuesday in conjunction with National Youth Literacy Day. The book written by Gina Gold chronicles the first day of fourth grade for a boy named Matt, whose love of racing is mocked by another boy. Matt gets support from family and friends, including a pretty blonde named Katie, and talks to a school counselor as well as his parents.
The Kenseths have three daughters under the age of 5 and picked their first topic, bullying, when the eldest came home from school upset that a friend had been picking on her.
"Both Katie and I believe that openly talking about these issues is the best way to prepare them," Kenseth said. "This book is designed to help families discuss the effects of bullying with their kids. We believe it's important our kids not only know how to deal with a bully, but also understand that it's not OK to act like one."
According to www.stopbullying.gov, more than 70 percent of students say they have seen bullying in their schools and less than 30 percent of students who are bullied notify an adult. The Kenseths had all three daughters with them on Tuesday as they unveiled the book at Joe Gibbs Racing, and Katie Kenseth read it to a group of schoolchildren who were also treated to a tour of the race shop.
Kenseth, who is sponsored by Dollar General, is an ambassador for Dollar General's Literacy Foundation. In honor of the book launch, his longtime personal sponsor Citizen Watch made a $25,000 donation on Kenseth's behalf to the foundation.
Katie Kenseth said the second installment in the series will likely focus on nutrition. She said working through the "Race Against Bullying" was a process for both her and the 2003 NASCAR champion and two-time Daytona 500 champion. They'd receive the story and reply with suggestions on what they thought it was missing.
Many times they relied on real-life experiences from their own household — for example, oldest daughter Kaylin responds best in situations that she can break into steps.
"We tried to make it a three-step process in handling the bullying, but keep it simple enough for Kaylin's age group to grasp and take in," Katie Kenseth said. "She likes a series of things, she likes to know, 'We do this because of this, and this and this.' She likes everything in order, and we thought that format worked."