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Dive into a world of inclusion, diversity, and inspiration that'll leave your kids excited to learn and confident in themselves. Explore how this book is transforming the way we educate and empower the next generation!

What I Can Be Is Up To Me!

The children's book that empowers readers to believe in themselves no matter the challenges that come their way!

The book What I can be is up to me seemingly standing on it's own

Author Kristin Smedley, a passionate advocate and mother of two successful sons who are blind, has joined forces with visually impaired artist Kim Crothers to create a one-of-a-kind children's book that breaks barriers and celebrates the limitless potential within every child.

"What I Can Be Is Up To Me" is a compelling, inclusive book that combines Braille and print in one accessible format, ensuring that children of all abilities can enjoy and explore its pages.

young man on skateboard holding white cane
two page spread of a page in the story showing text on left and picture of the blind artist on the right on the right
sx characters in the book jumping with arms in the air at the top of a mountain


Teachers, consider booking an author visit by Kristin Smedley for your school, and empower your students with her uplifting and positive message! 

Kristin's unique perspective on seeing challenges differently and appreciating all abilities can have a profound impact on young minds. Her engaging storytelling and motivational speaking style will captivate your students, encouraging them to embrace their own abilities and view obstacles as opportunities for growth. By inviting Kristin to share her experiences and insights, you can inspire your students to approach life with a renewed sense of optimism and resilience. 

Welcome to "What I Can Be Is Up To Me" - A Book for Inclusion and Empowerment!

At "What I Can Be Is Up To Me," we are committed to making a positive impact in the lives of families impacted by blindness. Our inclusive and accessible children's book not only aims to inspire young minds, but also supports parent and family programs at Thriving Blind Academy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people and families affected by blindness to thrive in school, work, and life.

When you purchase a copy of "What I Can Be Is Up To Me," or make a donation, you are directly contributing to the funding of these vital programs. Every dollar goes towards providing parents with the tools, resources, and support they need to navigate the unique challenges associated with raising blind children.We firmly believe that education, support, and community are essential components in helping families thrive.

Thriving Blind Academy offers a range of specialized programs designed to empower parents and families with the knowledge and skills needed to create a nurturing and inclusive environment for their children. By purchasing our children's book, you not only give your child an engaging and empowering story, but you also join us in creating a brighter future for families impacted by blindness.

"What I Can Be Is Up To Me" celebrates diversity, inclusion, and the limitless potential within each of us. It encourages children to embrace their unique abilities, while fostering empathy, understanding, and acceptance of others.

With captivating storytelling and vibrant illustrations, this book takes young readers on a journey of self-discovery, highlighting that regardless of any challenges they may face, they have the power to choose who they want to be and what they can achieve.

Your purchase or donation makes a significant difference in the lives of individuals and families affected by blindness. Together, we can expand our parent and family programs, touch more lives, and create a supportive community where everyone can thrive.

Join us in this empowering journey by purchasing "What I Can Be Is Up To Me" today, or by making a donation to support our cause. Together, let's make a lasting impact and create a world where every child, regardless of their visual abilities, has the opportunity to reach their full potential!

Thank you for your support, and together, let's make a difference!


"What I Can Be Is Up To Me" is set to become a cherished addition to classrooms, libraries, and homes around the world. By fostering empathy, understanding, and acceptance, this children's book propels a powerful message that goes beyond its captivating storyline.

This Book Is Important

Kristin and her three children standing in a bookstore with piles of the book thriving blind on a table in front of them

Hi! My name is Kristin and I am the Mom of two blind sons and a sighted daughter. When my children were diagnosed as blind shortly after birth, I had no information other than what the world believed about blindness - that it would be a barrier to my boys' success. Once I met blind role models and introduced them to my sons, our lives changed and we beat every grim statistic in this community. A few years ago, I put the stories of our role models in a book for parents of blind children to have better information about blindness than I did. NOW, I have created a children's book for young readers, blind AND sighted, to be informed about blindness and enjoy the exciting story!

This Book Is For:


Asian woman with glasses and long dark hair smiling

Teachers will enjoy using this book in class:

Introduce and reinforce high frequency words

Intentional sentence structures to support knowledge acquisition

Text chunking so content is manageable

Fun and engaging storyline

Repetitive sentence structures

Appropriate age level content load



child reading What I Can Be Is Up To Me book with one finger on text

Young readers will enjoy this book:

Fun, engaging story

Rhythmic, action text

Repeated text for reading success

Each page has an exciting action for the

reader to envision

A surprise ending!

Print + Braille for all readers to access!



mother holding young girl smiling

Parents will enjoy this book:

Blind and sighted siblings can read it together

Blind parent can read to sighted children

Success principles are the throughline of the story

Introduces young reader to role models that are blind/low vision


This book sets a gold standard for DEI and A.

  • "Characters" are from different races, ethnicity, nationality, and genders.

    Every person in the story has a disability (blindness/CVI/low vision).

    The print + braille format makes the book accessible for all readers.

    The illustrations are being created by a visually impaired artist. (Check out the submissions below to our illustrator contest!)


This Book Is Accessible.

We are partnered with the National Braille Press to make this book available in print AND braille so all readers can access it. Production costs for such a book are higher than a regular print book. Our successful Kickstarter campaign helped offset the majority of the extra costs!

This Book Is Inclusive.

Not only are all of the stars of the story blind or visually impaired,

the Illustrator for "What I Can Be Is Up To Me" is a Visually Impaired artist!

A contest was held to find a talented blind/low vision artist to do the illustrations for the book.

Take a look below at the extraordinary submissions. ALL of these were created by blind/low vision artists! 

Artist: Abigail Way

Artist: Mihika Nagale

Artist: Kim Crothers

Artist: Josephine (Joey) Hernandez

Artist: Roshunda Holt

Artist: Jordan Parsons

Artist: Collins Enwereji

Artist: Ellen Harper

Artist: Cecilia Foerester

Artist: Simira Cox

Artist: Amanda McCoy

Artist: Antonelle Lindrea

Kind Words About This Book

"I cannot wait to purchase several copies of this book to share!" -C.B. via Facebook


"Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

Meet Our Team!

Kristin smiling huge with long black hair and a blue denim jacket

Kristin Smedley, Author

Kristin is the Mom of three children, two of which were born with the rare blindness CRB1-LCA/RP. She is a TEDx speaker, nonprofit CEO, and best selling author of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight and Brilliantly Resilient: Reset, Rise and Reveal Your Brilliance. Kristin is the Co-Founder of Thriving Blind Academy, a membership organization that is solving the unemployment, literacy and financial crisis in the blind community. 

kmm with long brown hair and a big bright smile wearing a lavendar sweater

Kim Crothers, Illustrator

Kim has always wanted to pursue art and design from a very young age. She attended Mississippi State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in graphic design. Kim is also visually impaired. She was diagnosed during early childhood with ADOA (Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy), a rare eye disease that causes progressive and irreversible vision loss in both eyes. Kim and her family reside in Mississippi.


Tara smiling with brown curly hair

Tara Funk, Disability Advocate

Tara Funk is a lifelong learner, advocate for the disability community, TEDx speaker, and has a wealth of experience in educational publishing. Since February 2013, Tara has been focused on learning how best to live life with purpose and meaning in a body with disabilities. Tara is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and experiences where opportunity aligns with her values. As the mother of two young men living in a beautiful town on Long Island, she is grounded in a practice of gratitude for the life she and her family live. She lives by the quote, “you cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sales. “ It was the last line of her 2017 TEDx talk.

Diana with long black straight hair smiilng

Diana Garcia-Mejia, Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Diana decided she wanted to become a teacher of students with visual impairments at a young age. A graduate of Florida State University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Visual Disabilities Education and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Visual Disabilities with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. She is a 2018 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children and was featured in Bethesda Magazine for her deep passion for teaching. Diana has an Instagram account, @prektvi that empowers people to serve the unique needs of young children with visual impairments.

aubrey with shouler length reddish brown hair and wearing a denim jacket

Aubrey Schneider, Student

Aubrey Schneider is a student who is dedicated to learning, improving, and helping others. She has won two writing awards at her school and has always been interested in literature that contributes to society, and that is exactly what she feels What I Can Be Is Up To Me will become. She is a member of her school's drama program, GVPAA, and before high school she was an assistant coach in the Spirit Cheer program for kids with special needs. Aubrey lives with her parents, her brother, and her two cats. She has two cousins that are living and thriving with blindness. She is honored to be a part of the creative process behind this book and beyond excited to work with these amazing people.

sue smiling with brown shoulder length hair

Susan Schneider, Member, Board of Directors CRB1.org

Susan Schneider worked as an account manager for a third party administrator for 28 years. Susan is a member of the Board of Directors of CRB1.org, the global patient organization for CRB1-LCA/RP blindness, and an integral part of Thriving Productions. While Susan has always been involved in volunteering for causes that are important to her, her main focus is her family, especially her 12 grandchildren (two of whom are blind). Susan’s greatest joy is watching the love and acceptance her grandchildren all have for each other.