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‘H is for Harvey’ author helps heal Houston through reading

"H is for Harvey" is a book written to help children understand the destruction behind 2017's destructive storm. | Courtesy of Julie Beasly

“H is for Harvey” is a book written to help children understand the destruction behind 2017’s storm and help quell fears. | Courtesy of Julie Beasley

Hurricane Harvey brought more than 60 inches of rain and nearly $125 billion in damage when it made landfall in August 2017. As Houstonians rebuilt over the following year, one local author spent her time documenting their compassion.

Julie Beasley, a mother and freelance writer, wrote “H is for Harvey” after she saw how such a destructive force could bring out the best in people. She wanted to show children affected by the hurricane the people that were there to help rebuild.

“I was moved by all the acts of heroism and helping one another,” Beasley said, “from first responders to everyday civilians that were rolling up their sleeves.”

Wanting to capture that specific aspect of the storm for future generations to understand, she wrote the book as a tool for parents to alleviate lingering fears children might have after the hurricane. She finds it eye-opening that many Texans are still dealing with the aftermath more than a year later, noting that it will be something the city will look back on for years to come.

“At the end of the book, there are facts about hurricanes,” Beasley said. “How they’re formed, how they’re named, how much rain fell during Harvey.”

Beyond simply informing children about hurricanes, Beasley is using the book to give back in another way. All the royalties earned by the book are being given to the Astros Foundation, which gave $4 million in relief to the city of Houston in 2017, according to MLB. The Foundation also provided a foreword for the title.

When looking to publish the book, Beasley wanted to keep it local. She reached out to Texas Christian University Press. They then pointed her to Eduardo Martinez of Rice University to be her illustrator.

“I feel so proud that it’s a Texas collaboration between the Astros, the publisher, the illustrator and myself,” Beasley said.

The idea came to her during the storm itself when she noticed the theme of words beginning with H: Heroes, Helicopters, Harvey, Houston Strong. This would lay the basis to start on a project that she felt would help the two different kinds of children she saw during the storm: Those who were not directly affected yet needed to understand, and those who were moved from their homes and were scared.

“Those kids were displaced. For them to know that people around them were there to help in so many ways — even a whole year later, the need is still there,” Beasley said. “The community recognizes it, continuing to do things to help by rebuilding parks, and schools, and libraries and the fields that they play on.”

Beasley said that while her family was safe during the storm, they were still touched by the pain of seeing their community suffer.

The book was published Aug. 22 and can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Currently, it is No. 8 on Amazon for children’s disaster preparedness books.

While this was the copywriter’s first book, Beasley said she would considering doing another in the future after the experience she’s had giving back to her fellow Houstonians.

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