Allison Schley,MEd, is the author of Forever Friends, a book about a young boy, his dog, and their friend Megan. The interesting part of Allison’s story is that both the boy, Matt, and his pet friend, Dexter are deaf.
I asked Allison to explain the backstory behind Forever Friends.
What inspired you to write this book?
Allison: I have taught deaf and hard of hearing kids for 20 years, and I have always seen a need for them to work on social skills and self esteem. I adopted (my dog) Dexter a year ago, and he is my best friend. As I started writing, I knew he needed to be in the book. His personality is contagious. He is not deaf, but I wanted to create a parallel story with him and the main boy, Matt.
Matt just came from my heart as a compilation of students over the years. Megan is my daughter; she truly is a compassionate, accepting girl who welcomes kids of all abilities and nationalities.
Could you explain the moral of your illustrated story?
The moral is all kids are special and being deaf is okay. It is also about stepping outside of your box and how it allows you to expand your world. Just by Megan learning a few signs, she could communicate. I want parents to know they can jump in and just communicate with their kids, regardless of how little they know!
Tell us more about yourself.
I grew up in Beachwoid, Ohio, where the Cleveland-area Deaf Education kids were bused. I learned signs at age eight on the playground and never looked back. I have taught for 20-plus years and tried to incorporate what I have seen into the story.
What do you hope people learn from your story?
Deaf and hard of hearing kids are good, and it is okay to be different. I want them to know they can communicate and need to try. I want deaf and hard of hearing students to relate to Matt and Dexter and feel special.
My hope is to get this book into hands of all children with hearing loss. I have a donation program for the Deaf Mentor Program in Wisconsin. Children with hearing loss who use American Sign Language (ASL) have a Deaf adult come to their home and teach ASL and about Deaf culture. I want all of these 40 to 50 families to get the book, so these kids will feel special. I am selling book for this donation at $8 per book. Books can be ordered at www.2foreverfriends.com.
I also want to mention an incredible illustrator, Collin Richter, who is 17! Without him, our book would not be what it is.
Win a copy of Forever Friends!
In the Comments below, list *three reasons* why this book would be important to you or a loved one. Comments will be judged on their originality and sincerity. U.S. residents only, please. Deadline: Sunday, December 16, 2012, midnight, 12:00pm CST.