Author, Peoria native, shares stories with thousands of kids

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Billy Young was born and raised in Peoria. She spent part of her life working as an account executive for United Way. She was unaware that one day she would be working for the same company, but on her terms.

In 2008, she published her first book called “The Somewhat Extraordinary Child.” It was based on a letter she wrote to her son. She transformed that handwritten letter into a children’s book that is now circulating the state of Illinois and beyond.

After someone from Heart of Illinois United Way came across Young’s work they sought her out; surprised to find out that she once worked for the company in a different sector.

Currently, Young has published four books. All of them purchased by United Way and used for programs like Succes by 6 and Page Turner.

Being in the position now where I’m actually getting the opportunity to penetrate so many households with positive messages and positive images it just makes me feel really good.

Billy Young, Children’s Author

The programs work with families that are disadvantaged and may not have access to reading materials.

They see to it that these kids have a library so they give them books periodically of their own. They get to keep them so I’m priveleged that my books are included.

Billy Young, Children’s Book Author

Young does have a partner who makes her visions come alive. James Taylor of Peoria and Young share a church home. She asked him to illustrate her books. All of Taylor’s illustrations are hand-drawn.

I’m basically a big kid at heart, it’s kind of easy to do kids books because just kind of think of what a kid would like.

James Taylor, Children’s Book illustrator

Taylor said Young has the brains and he has the brawn.

I’m an artist but I can’t really write, so it’s kind of a good combination.

James Taylor, Children’s Book illustrator

Billy Young’s work has not gone unnoticed by her hometown. In 2018, Page Turner received a proclamation for its 10th anniversary, highlighting Young’s book called “Tabor’s First Day of Caring.”

Young said she plans on writing another book for publishing in 2021.

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