TAMIU alumna publishes children’s literature book celebrating autism awareness

What once began as a classroom assignment has taken shape in the form of a published children’s literature book now available through Amazon.

Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) alumna Angelica G. Villarreal’s story of her son Caleb, a seven-year-old autistic child, serves as the inspiration for her children’s literature book, “My Brother is a Superhero” published this month (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The story told through the eyes of Caleb’s brother, Aiden, takes readers through their school adventures as they take on their imaginary adversaries. As Caleb learns to adjust to his first year of school through the help of his older brother, he learns that overcoming obstacles is possible when he learns to ask for help from others when needed.

“When the opportunity to write a children’s book was presented to me, it was of utmost importance that I told my son’s story. As I gathered ideas to write the book, ‘My Brother is A Superhero,’ I decided to include conversations I’ve had with my son, Caleb. What a better way to represent him than by asking him questions about his day and listening to his experiences, ”said Villarreal.

Villarreal, who has pledged to donate 50 percent of the proceeds from the first 100 copies sold to her local autism community, hopes the publication promotes a better understanding of the independence and courage of autistic individuals.


“My goal was to produce a book that conveyed the message that autism does not share a definite look; children with autism are as unique as other children. In this story, you will meet a child with a vast imagination and a sense of curiosity for the new adventures that school provides. While learning to overcome new challenges with the help of others, Caleb learns that he can accomplish things on his own as well. So, this is not a story about the things he is unable to accomplish due to his diagnosis. Rather, it is a story of perseverance, love, acceptance, and personal growth as he learns to overcome new challenges, ”explained Villarreal.

For Villarreal, the opportunity to publish her own work has been an opportunity fulfilled, thanks to the help of Dr. Kaitlyn Culliton, assistant professor of English at the University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“TAMIU has supported my dream since the very first day I decided to pursue publishing. Dr. Kaitlyn Culliton has been working with me, and other aspiring authors, arduously throughout the process. We spent six months researching publishing information, editing, and planning events to make this possible, ”said Villarreal.

Additionally, Villarreal has toured several schools in Laredo, where she has received support from local educators.

“My most recent presentation was at Clark Elementary School, where United ISD’s Superintendent announced that they would be purchasing a copy for each student in attendance and three copies for each school library in the District. This was an incredible outcome because that means that more people will read my book and learn about autism, ”said Villarreal.

She joined TAMIU Border Lit Project members for their recent presentation of 100 student-authored books during a Book Handoff Event to student volunteers of the TAMIU-Lamar Bruni Vergara Literacy Partnership (TAMIU-LBV).

The TAMIU Border Lit Project includes both current students and alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Multicultural Children’s Literature course promoting the representation of border communities.

These 100 books will be donated to the TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership. Partnership tutors will use them to tutor students in the community. The newly crafted children’s literature books focus on border culture, diversity and inclusion, and family and identity.

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