Sometimes you know that a meeting is just meant to be. When you have a passion for helping students read and write. When you are looking for just the right reading materials for struggling readers. When you have a drive to find the “Just Right” text that they can read. When you want to share that motivating drive to get kids reading and you find someone else that shares that passion.
That is how I feel about meeting author Yasmin John-Thorpe last November in Green Valley, Arizona. I was attending a community arts and crafts show in my new community with my long-time friends, Deb Nesbitt and Terri Gutierrez, who had also recently moved there. I happened to walk by a table loaded with children’s books. Being a former classroom teacher and still having a love of children’s books, I had to stop and browse. Yasmin had her colorful children’s books about the desert southwest on display.
I was intrigued by the delightful pictures and fun stories about animals and life in the Sonoran Desert. Originally from the northwest and recently transplanted to the desert southwest, I immediately thought of all the students attending Successful Learning Educational Services back in my home state of Washington and nearby city of Portland, Oregon. I wanted them to be able to learn about the amazing creatures and life here and as I browsed through the texts, I knew that many of my young dyslexic friends who would love her books, would not be able to access the print.
I introduced myself to Yasmin, shared my love of her books and explained my dilemma of wanting to purchase her books for my students and yet knowing they would not be able to read them. I asked if her books were in a digital format. She said that they were not. I wondered if she would be interested in talking more about that. As I talked with Yasmin, I learned that she lived in my community. I gave her my business card, took hers, and asked if I could possibly meet with her to discuss this more. To my delight, she said yes. And that is how this journey began.
Sharing Our Passion for Literacy
Upon meeting Yasmin a couple of weeks later over lunch, I learned of her amazing journey into authorship. Yasmin is a self-published Canadian author, who has written books on Canada’s place in WW II, adult novels, and several amazing children’s books on the desert southwest. She has worked with children in a number of schools to help them become better authors, has conducted summer writing workshops for children in years past, has mentored budding authors, and was now taking time to listen to my plea to turn her books into a digital format for easy access for MY students. I explained that most dyslexic students would not be able to read her books, but that they would be very interested if they could learn about these amazing creatures of the desert southwest, if only they could ear read her books.
January 7, 2019 Our first meeting at the The Grill in Quail Creek, Green Valley, AZ
Yasmin was intrigued. She promised that she would have her assistant look into what it would take to do this.
A short time later, another friend of mine, Connie Leinhos, visited me. She, like my staff and I, tutors students with dyslexia. We visited Yasmin in her home. Another great visit, and another plea to help make accessible books for Connie and my business’s students. Yasmin was listening and becoming more intrigued by this need for decodable books. Yasmin gave a few of her books to both of us, which we took to read aloud to our students.
Cheryl Anthony, Connie Leinhos, and Yasmin John-Thorpe March 2019
The Planning Begins
We had such a good visit Yasmin and I decided to meet again.
At this meeting Yasmin shared that she would work with her assistant to get a couple of her books digitally recorded so that our dyslexic students could access them. True to her word, she did just that. It wasn’t long and a couple of her books became available on Amazon.
At our next luncheon meeting, Yasmin agreed to let me interview her in a podcast on my website so that she could share her story and tell more about her amazing stories. So, before the holiday season ended, we had recorded two short podcasts and two of her books were available digitally.
Yasmin John-Thorpe reading A New Home for the Q’s, a first attempt at recording her book.
This was great progress!
To check out Yasmin’s books, click the photos below.
If you are interested in listening to our podcasts, they can be found here:
Watch for my blog next week to learn what we are up to NOW!
Cheryl Anthony, MS Ed.
President, Successful Learning Educational Services