South Dakota UCEDD Staff Publishes New Children's Book

January 13, 2020

Kendra Gottsleben, a marketing communication specialist for the University of South Dakota's Center for Disabilities (SD UCEDD/LEND), has recently published her third book, titled "Kendra's Perfect Dance Routine." The book is Gottsleben's second children's book and third overall. Gottsleben has a rare disease called Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Type VI. This disorder causes various skeletal abnormalities, including short stature and joint deformities that affect mobility. In elementary school, Gottsleben and a group of friends helped one another overcome their fears of not doing well at dance recitals. "In my book, I want to show the obstacles I faced while dancing with MPS," said Gottsleben. "Even though I had MPS, I still did activities that I liked to do." As a child, Gottsleben noticed there were not many books that represented her life or the lives of others living with disabilities. The goal of her books is to show what it is like to live with a rare disease and that you can pursue and succeed at a variety of things.

Gottsleben's first book, "Live Laugh Lemonade", published in 2012, details her positive approach to life and how she has taken advantage of lessons learned along the way. Her second publication, and first children's story, "Kendra's Lemonade", was published in 2014 and helps children understand they have the ability to make their challenges into successes. After "Kendra's Lemonade," I saw that kids are hungry for these types of books, even if they don't have a disability or health condition, shared Gottsleben. 

The overall message I hope readers take away from the book is that there is no right or wrong way to be themselves and expressing oneself isn't about perfection. It's more being proud of yourself." A Vermillion, South Dakota native, Gottsleben earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology from Augustana College (now Augustana University). Gottsleben has been featured as an inspirational speaker at TEDxSiouxFalls, has mentored local South Dakota young adults with disabilities, and is involved in several local, state and national boards and committees. She has also appeared in an episode of "Born Different". Gottsleben has been with the Center for Disabilities since 2010. "Kendra's Perfect Dance" is available in paperback and hard cover and can be ordered online through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.