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I began writing children’s books without ever thinking of publishing them! After more than 35 years in the marketing profession, I left my consulting business and moved to Nevada to help care for my grandbabies. The change was driven by the loss of my nephew, whom I had raised as a son after providing hospice for his mother. Little did I realize that caring for my grandbabies would provide such an effective form of therapy and delight. Reading early and often to children not only makes for good times, it promotes bonding and nurtures the joy of reading, so I read to them often. Something amazing happened; my creativity and imagination were re-ignited. It seemed only natural to funnel this new-found energy into a long-term desire to write children’s books.
Since I initially created the books for a very select audience, i.e. my grandbabies, I set several goals for them including (1) promoting literacy by helping to nurture the joy of reading through humorous story telling, (2) providing a message of acceptance, love and friendship, not just for others but for themselves, and (3) igniting young readers’ natural curiosity for the world, the environment and the creatures that inhabit it along with us.
My Basset Hound Winston, Silly Willy Winston as I call him, was the perfect muse and unlikely hero for my books. He has the biggest ears ever, a stout frame, huge paws and a super large snout. He trips over his ears and paws which often makes him a bit of a clown. People laugh but he embraces their laughter as an invitation to make friends. If you ask me, he is the perfect role model for self-acceptance and empowerment. Winston’s traits – the way he uses them to his advantage – also make him an ideal character to help children recognize, understand and protect themselves and others against bullying.
After sharing the books with a child, parents can ask if the child ever feels as if he or she is different like Silly Willy Winston: what makes them different, how they feel about being different and what special powers or unique gifts the child gains from those differences? Whether or not the child feels different, Winston’s story can be used by parents to start a conversation regarding bullying. This gives parents the opportunity to discuss how some children may pick on others because of their differences. Once the dialogue is started, parents are able to address this sensitive issue and prepare their child to protect self and others against bullying through awareness, confidence and mutual respect.