Special Offer

Doing any “Cyber Monday” shopping for Christmas?  We’re offering “Danny the Dragon” in a special with my other two books.

Take a look at the fantastic interactive web page the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) set up for “Danny the Dragon” for Christmas shopping.

Click this link: https://www.scbwi.org/scbwibookstop-display/?id=541823 (This link ends Dec 6)

Sign the guest book and click on the various “blocks” to discover some interesting facts about “Mr. Bob”.  Enjoy

SPECIAL  — instead of clicking on ” Buy the Book”,  give us a call for our Cyber special:  727-842-8314

Buy “Danny the Dragon” and “Mouse in the Manger”, and get “Tommie Turtle’s Secret”” FREE.  Thats all three books for $25, and FREE shipping in the US.

This special offer ends Dec 6th!  Gives us plenty of time to ship it to you before Christmas.

Danny the Dragon Book Release Celebration

Danny the Dragon Book Release Celebration

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!

I read part of “The Ladybug Known as Lil” to share what the next book will be.

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!

 

Press Release for Danny the Dragon

Official Press Release from Christian Faith Publishing!

September 18, 2018

Headline
Robert Z. Hicks’s new release “Danny the Dragon” is an exciting children’s story about a gentle dragon who is teased for his kindness—until he becomes an unlikely hero.

Summary of the release
“Danny the Dragon” by Robert Z. Hicks, from Christian Faith Publishing, is an inspiring children’s picture book told in rhyme about a dragon named Danny who isn’t like the other dragons because he doesn’t join in their flame-throwing pranks. When an evil army invades the kingdom, Danny stays to face them while the other dragons flee in fear.

Full release text
“Danny the Dragon” is a wonderful moral story of courage and gentleness. “Danny the Dragon” is the creation of published author Robert Z. Hicks, an award-winning children’s book writer and retired speech instructor from the University of Hawaii. Robert’s vision is to spark a lifelong love of reading in children.

Dramatic illustrations by professional artist Ashley Otis bring the story to life! A study guide is included. The book is endorsed by the American Dyslexia Association for easy- to-read text and formatting.

Hicks writes,
“There once was a gentle dragon.
Danny Dragon was his name.
He wasn’t like the other dragons.
He didn’t make a flame.

The other dragons laughed at Danny
And put him down to shame.
‘You can’t be a fiery dragon,’ they said,
‘When you can’t even make a flame!’

When the other dragons went to play,
But Danny didn’t think it fun at all
To frighten passing folk.

Danny liked to sit in the flowers
And hum with the bumblebees.
He’d sing along with his forest friends
And the birds up in the trees.

Then came an invading army
That was led by a wicked knight.
They surrounded the kingdom’s castle
And were a terrifying sight!

The other dragons ran away.
They were very much afraid.
Danny, the little dragon,
Was the only one who stayed.”

Published by Christian Faith Publishing,

Hicks’s new book is a beautiful lesson for children that shows gentleness and courage are not mutually exclusive.

View a synopsis of “Danny the Dragon” on YouTube.

Consumers can purchase “Danny the Dragon” at traditional brick & mortar bookstores, or online at Amazon.com, Apple iTunes store, or Barnes and Noble.

For additional information or inquiries about “Danny the Dragon”, contact the Christian Faith Publishing media department at 866-554-0919.
ChristianFaithPublishing.com

Danny the Dragon video preview

Danny the Dragon video preview

Click on the picture to start the video.

Christian Faith Publishers made a great video trailer for Danny the Dragon”. Take a look!

Not too early to start thinking of Christmas shopping. Get it done, and enjoy the holidays. A book with a lesson children can learn makes an excellent gift.

Danny the Dragon can be purchased online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon in paperback or hardcover.   

Just type in the search bar – “Danny the Dragon Robert Z Hicks”

IBPA Member Spotlight: Robert Z. Hicks

IBPA Member Spotlight: Robert Z. Hicks

Robert Z. Hicks’ Children’s Books Recognized as Reader-friendly for Kids With Dyslexia
Danny the Dragon art and cover image

Recently, the American Dyslexia Association deemed author and IBPA member Robert Z. Hicks’ children’s books reader-friendly for kids with dyslexia.

Robert went out of his way to seek this approval from the ADA, so it means a great deal to him. This process started when he read Are Authors Giving Up On 20% of Their Readers? by Dr. Theodore Cohen in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators winter bulletin. In the article, Dr. Cohen shares writing and publishing methods that help children with language-based learning disabilities.

Author Robert Z. Hicks

That article inspired Robert to send an email to the American Dyslexia Association asking for suggestions that would make his books dyslexic-friendly. “A response from their Executive Director gave several suggestions and an offer to look at my books,” says Robert. “I was delighted to send my three books, and to subsequently learn that they had been tested on elementary children and were approved.”

Robert was elated because “it was evidence that my books could help early readers learn to read easier, and it also boosted the market potential for people looking for books to help their children who are having challenges with reading.”

This recognition perfectly coincides with Robert’s mission for writing children’s books in the first place. “My life purpose is to put books in the hands of children that will entertain, and teach a life lesson, and, hopefully, inspire kids to love and develop a life-long habit of reading. I was woefully ignorant about dyslexia, and after discovering how widespread it was, I thought making my books easier to read would help all children.”

Robert has authored three children’s book so far. He published Danny the Dragon through an independent publisher, and he published Tommie Turtle’s Secret and Mouse in the Manger on his own. He’s now working toward publishing his next book, The Ladybug Known as Lil, next year.


Three Questions with Author Robert Z. Hicks

IBPA: What are some helpful tips you can give other writers and publishers to make their books more reader-friendly for people with dyslexia?

Robert Hicks (RH): These are the basics for books aimed at the mass market:

Select a sans serif font, such as Arial

Chose a ragged edge rather than right justification.

Don’t put “breaks” or hyphenated words at the right margin.

Format with extra space between lines, and have enlarged letters.

Put text on a plain background to avoid “noise” and visual entanglement.

I would also suggest rhyming stories or rhyming poetry because rhyme helps [children with dyslexia] recognize the sound patterns of letters.

IBPA: What inspired you to write children’s books?

RH: Frankly, I had no intention of writing children’s books. I thought I was retired. Then I watched my wife chasing a little green tree toad, trying to catch it to put outside. That started me reminiscing about bugs and things on the farm. I was inspired to write a rhyming poem about times I would listen to the bugs when I hid in the grass under the apple tree.

A friend told me, “Mr. Bob, this is good, you should write more, and publish them.” There followed a flood of inspiration during which I wrote forty or more rhyming stories related to memories of critters and experiences I had as a youth on the farm. I published the best of those in an ebook, Once I Was A Kid, With the Wild Things On the Farm.

When I discovered that rhyming helped children with reading, I felt God had given me a new purpose, and the gift of rhyme to achieve it.

IBPA: You published two of your books on your own, so as an author publisher, can you give three key lessons that you’ve learned that will help other author publishers along their journey?

RH: First, put your ego aside. Take what you write, or want to write, to other author groups to help you discern or confirm what is publishable. Most libraries have author groups, or join an organization where you can get unbiased critiques.

Second, understand that marketing a book is the hard part. Even before publishing, build a “platform”, so you have an audience waiting.

Third, build a team; don’t be a ‘lone ranger.’ Going the distance to the goal is more attainable if you have encouragement and help from others.

IBPA: Thank you for sharing your story with us!


Learn more about Robert Z. Hicks’ children’s books here.

Danny Goes to the American Library Assoc. Conference

Danny Goes to the American Library Association Conference

Danny the Dragon made his first major public appearance last month at the American Library Association’s annual conference displayed at the Independent Book Publishers booth!

As a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), I was able to send them a copy of Danny the Dragon to be included in their vendor booth at the conference.

The following is IBPA’s summary of the event.

More than 12,400 librarians attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans from June 21 to 25, 20018.  This was in addition to the more than 5,100 exhibitors.

IBPA’s cooperative booth had an impressive footprint on the show floor (40’ x 10’), and the professional signage and shelving made a proud showroom for the more than 200 books from IBPA’s publisher members.

IBPA’s built-out booth with professional signage – and members’ books – looked polished and well-presented.  

Danny the Dragon was front and center, cover facing out, with the other children’s picture books.  (Look for Danny in the picture on the left.)

We are hoping that when librarians review the catalogue that lists all the books on the IBPA display, – we’ll get orders.  Our wish is that children all over the United States and Canada will find Danny the Dragon in their libraries, and enjoy his story.              

The Trail of the Dragon

The Trail of the Dragon

What follows is one of the articles I wrote for the American Dyslexia Association detailing how I discovered them, and received their endorsement.

In the process, I learned more ways to help children, especially those with language-based challenges, to learn to read.

My children’s rhyming story picture book, Danny the Dragon, was at the Page Design department of my publisher when I picked up the SCBWI winter Bulletin. An article by Dr. Theodore Cohen PhD, “Are Authors Giving Up On 20% of Their Readers?” caught my attention.

Dr. Cohen discussed things that helped children with language-based learning disabilities, especially those with dyslexia.

Some of the things that Dr. Cohen mentioned, like a font that keeps space between letters, (sans serif) spacing out lines of text, and enlarging the text, I had already implemented in my previous books. These readability elements help any child, not just those struggling to read. Prompted by his article, I informed our publisher we wanted Arial font which is sans serif, and no right justification which can create irregular spacing between words.

An email to the American Dyslexic Association asking for suggestions for making my book “dyslexic friendly,” resulted in a response confirming our choice of font, and giving a suggestion to avoid “noise” behind letters, such as text over artwork.  I was pleased that the American Dyslexia Association offered to look at my books.

I was delighted to receive a message from the American Dyslexia Association with the information that they had “tested” my books on school children.  One girl said “she was delighted.” In fact, the girl asked for two of the books to be read again! My books, especially Danny the Dragon, are now approved by the American Dyslexic Association.

A serendipity occurred when I went online to see the Open Dyslexic font that Dr. Cohen mentioned. I found an article by dyslexia expert Dr. Guinevere Eden, a professor at Georgetown University, and director of its Center for the Study of Learning. In the context of discussing the lack of research validating “dyslexic friendly” fonts, Dr. Eden stated: “The fundamental problem of dyslexia is in mapping the shapes of letters to the right sound units or phonemes.”

The ”right sound units or phonemes” jumped out at me, because I had already learned that rhyming helps children make the connection for phonemic awareness! And, my books are stories in rhyme!

Another search of rhyming and dyslexia uncovered research by Usha Goswami, Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at Cambridge. Dr. Goswami asserts: “Children who are dyslexic struggle with speech rhythm.” She suggests that children can overcome dyslexia by learning nursery rhymes, dancing, and singing, because the condition is caused by lack of rhythm patterns in the brain.

Rhyming with rhythm is what I do!

Robert Z. Hicks, aka “Mr. Bob”, is author and publisher of rhyming-story picture books, including “Danny the Dragon,” and the award winning “Tommie Turtle’s Secret,” winner of Best Children’s Book and Book of the Year in the Florida Writer’s Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards competition.

Mr. Bob’s vision is to help children learn to read, and develop a life-long habit of reading. You can view his work at: www.robertzhicks.com

Link to the blog of the American Dyslexia Association.

The Trail of the Dragon by Robert Z. Hicks

*******************************

There are simple things that you can look for when shopping for children to find books that are easier to read.

Rhyme or not, you can:

Look for letters that are separate, not run together. Enlarged letters are better.
Chose books without right justification, which causes irregular spacing between words.
No “breaks” or hyphenated words at the right margin.
Extra space between lines is desirable.
Text is on a plain background, and not superimposed on artwork.

 

American Dyslexia Association endorses books!

We are excited to receive the endorsement of the American Dyslexia Association for my books!

The article below is the first of three that will be posted on the ADA Blog. (Link below) The second article appearing in a few weeks, traces how I discovered what can be done to help children with language-based difficulties have an easier time reading my books.

When I contacted the American Dyslexia Association, their Director graciously offered to look at my books, and then invited me to write articles about my work and books, and, subsequently gave their endorsement.

Can Rhyming Help Children Learn to Read Better? by Robert Z Hicks

06/15/2018 | By Office ADA

Robert Z Hicks, known as “Mr. Bob” is an award winning author and publisher of children’s rhyming picture books.  

Coming from a career of teaching college, how did you get started writing children’s books?  Had you always dreamed of someday writing children’s books?


No, it never occurred to me to write children’s books.  I thought I was retired after teaching speech communication for 24 years at the University of Hawaii.  But, after watching my wife Betty chase a green tree toad around the living room trying to capture it under a paper cup, I started reminiscing about critters I enjoyed as a child growing up on my grandfather’s farm in Michigan in the 40’s.  I felt inspired to write a rhyming poem based on my memories. 

A friend encouraged me to write more stories, and there followed a flood of inspiration of rhyming stories triggered by memories of my childhood experiences.

How many stories did you write?

About 40.  We took manuscripts of Tommie Turtle’s Secret, Mouse in the Manger, and several other stories to the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference in 2005 to find out what writing and publishing books entailed.  Surprised and encouraged that the stories won Best Submission for Children’s Writing, we decided to publish my first book, “Tommie Turtle’s Secret”.

What makes your books different from other children’s books out there?

The stories are written in rhyme, and each stanza is accompanied by an illustration that helps the child visualize the story and what the words are saying.

As a teacher, I add value to my books by including a study guide with questions to test comprehension, and comments to highlight things to be learned.

I discovered research that early learning of rhymes increases phonemic awareness, and improves the ability to read. Reading nursery rhymes and rhyming stories to babies and young children helps establish the ear-brain connection for discriminating sound units. 

I asked Crystal Bowman, my mentor, friend, a mother, and successful children’s author, what she thought of rhyme, which she uses in her books.

Crystal Bowman’s perspective on rhythm, rhyme, and reading:

“I know that babies are born with a strong sense of rhythm.  They respond to rocking, repetition, and music.  They naturally clap their hands and move to music and rhythm.
 
Text written with repetition and rhyme is a help to a struggling reader because the repetition helps them learn new words, and the rhyme helps them with pronunciation. (they know what the word needs to sound like)”

I was excited to learn that rhyming helps children read more effectively.  It gave purpose and direction for the inspiration of the stories God gave me, and for my gift for rhyme.  I wasn’t looking for another career, but I am delighted to have a new purpose and cause to pursue in my life.

What is Tommie Turtle’s Secret?

Tommie’s secret is the story of the day he raced speedy Hoppy Bunny to teach the bunny valuable lessons about friendship.  A surprise twist at the end highlights moral values of forgiveness, and that being nice, not bragging and teasing, is the way to make friends. 

Questions and commentary at the end of the book test comprehension, stimulate critical thinking, and provide a basis for discussion of the effect of bragging and teasing on relationships. Parents can also point out that by focusing on the abilities Tommie had, not on what he couldn’t do, Tommie could still enter the race.

“Tommie Turtle’s Secret,” won Best Children’s, and Book of the Year, in the 2008 Florida Writer’s Royal Palm Awards competition.

How many books have you published?

I’ve published three picture books, “Tommie Turtle’s Secret,” “Mouse In the Manger,” and “Danny the Dragon,” and an ebook, “Once I Was A Kid, With the Wild Things On The Farm”.  

Are you going to publish more children’s books?

Absolutely! My heart’s desire is to use my gift of rhyme to help children learn to read and to develop a love for reading!

Here is a link to the American Dyslexia Association Blog.

Around the World with a Turtle & Mouse

Around the World With a Turtle & Mouse

My vision for my books, is to get them into the hands of children everywhere to help them learn to read. There is abundant evidence that rhyming helps children identify the basic sounds in words.  My books also carry a message and things to learn in a study guide.

From the beginning, Tommie Turtle’s Secret, and Mouse in the Manger, began trickling out globally.  I am reminded of the Chinese proverb, “The journey of 1000 leagues begins with the first step.”  (1 league = 3 miles)

Most of the time, the books were carried by missionaries and friends.  

Books went to: 

Costa Rico – Recently, our pastor and some others from our church, and some students from Trinity College, went to Costa Rico to help at a school.  Pastor donated copies of Tommie Turtle’s Secret and Mouse in the Manger to the school  library.   (The picture is of children at the school in Costa Rico)

Haiti  A medical team carried books to a Catholic orphanage high in the mountains of Haiti.  Another medical team carried books to Port Au Prince.

Zambia, Africa – We gave books to a mission team we support.

Australia    A friend sent books to his friends in Australia.  

Dominican Republic  A friend sent a case of Mouse in the Manger to a mission school. 

China   A young couple from our church going to China to teach English for two years took the books to use in their teaching.

Canada – We sent a book to friends we have in Toronto.

Hawaii – Our former church youth minister ordered a case of Tommie Turtle’s Secret for use in a youth ministry he heads up now for at-risk kids.

Our friends in Hawaii bought books to give as gifts to family.  Our former real estate agent gives a book as a thank you gift for buyers with children at the closing of a sale.

Japan – The music ministers we assisted in Hawaii, went to Japan almost every year on a mission trip.

If you or your church support missionaries overseas, or even for use in church activities such as Sunday School or Vacation Bible School, we’d be glad to sell my books for the Lord’s work at 1/2 price.

God inspired me to write rhyming stories for children.  Now, let’s give God a hand by getting the books into the hands of children. 

Danny the Dragon has arrived!

Danny the Dragon has arrived!

Good news!  My new book, Danny the Dragon is finally here and we are excited how it turned out.  Published by Christian Faith Publishing, the book is now available online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Ashley Otis, who did the illustrations for Mouse in the Manger, did the illustrations for Danny the Dragon, and they are beautiful.  We were blessed to have found such a talented artist to bring my stories to life.

 

There once was a gentle dragon.
Danny Dragon was his name.
He wasn’t like the other dragons,
He didn’t make a flame.

The other dragons laughed at Danny,
And put him down to shame.
“You can’t be a fiery dragon,” they said,
“When you can’t even make a flame!”

When the other dragons went to play,
They would puff their fire and smoke.
But Danny didn’t think it fun at all,
To frighten passing folk.

 

Crystal Bowman, best-selling children’s author wrote:

“Danny is different from his dragon friends.  He doesn’t think it’s fun to scare people with a fiery flame, so the other dragons tease him.  One day, when trouble comes to the forest, Danny faces a big challenge while his friends flee in fear.  Danny becomes a hero and his friends learn an important lesson.

Children will love this gentle story about fear, friendship, and courage.  The text is written in whimsical rhythm and rhyme, making the reading experience enjoyable for all.  A discussion guide with questions will stimulate conversation and help children with reading comprehension.

A delightful book to be enjoyed by both parents and children, Danny the Dragon will be a favorite book in school and family libraries.”

Find out what Danny does, and how he becomes a hero in this delightful story.

Danny the Dragon can be purchased online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon in paperback or hardcover.

Just type in the search bar – Danny the Dragon Robert Z Hicks