Sept 29, 2018 marked the day of the Danny the Dragon Book Release Celebration at the Elfers CARES Center here in New Port Richey. There were about 30 attendees, including Rob Marlow, the Mayor of New Port Richey.
Mike, the baker and proprietor of That Little Bakery, the in-house lunch room, baked Dragon Cookies for the occasion and donated half of the money from the sale of the cookies to buy books for Toys for Tots.
Ashley Otis, our artist who illustrated “Danny the Dragon”, came up from Sarasota with her fiancé, Brandon, and her parents. Ashley shared with the group how she develops an illustration on her touch-screen monitor. Fascinating to see the progress of a sketch as details are added, then color and shading.
I first shared how I got started writing children’s stories. It might have been in 2002 when I watched as Betty tried to catch a green toad with a paper cup to put it outside. That triggered in my memory the bugs and things on the farm when I was a kid, and I wrote a poem about bugs. Our friend Louise, (in attendance) told me it was good, and I should write more and publish them. There followed a flood of rhyming stories as I recalled my childhood experiences.
Louise’s encouragement has come to fruition with the publication of the e-book, “Once I Was A Kid, With the Wild Things On the Farm”, available on Amazon, and wherever e-books are sold.
I discovered research documenting that rhyme helped children make the ear-brain connection of sounds to increase phonemic awareness for reading. I explained to the group that phonemes were the smallest units of sound that have meaning in our language.
I felt that God had given me a purpose, a vision, to use my gift of rhyme to help children learn to read. This year, 2018, I discovered that 15-20% of children have some degree of dyslexia, a brain malfunction that disrupts the mapping of shapes of letters to the sounds of the letters (phonemes).
That same information led me to the American Dyslexia Association, ADA, a nonprofit that provides help, and conducts research of dyslexia. I learned that books formatted with open fonts, (like Arial) and no right justification, and no “breaks” or hyphens at the edge, helped children read easier.
After submitting my books to the ADA for their evaluation – Danny the Dragon, Mouse in the Manger, and Tommie Turtle’s Secret, have all been endorsed by the ADA as being “reader friendly” for children with reading challenges. The endorsement by the ADA was A HUGE CONFIRMATION that my vision to help children with my stories was real!
We had lunch at That Little Bakery, where I enjoyed a meatless, crustless, spinach mushroom quiche.
WHAT A FUN TIME! We so appreciated all our friends who came to support us!