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  • Dreaming Big
  • Feminism
  • Resilience
  • Opportunity
  • Refugees
  • Aviation


Encouraging Children to Dream Big

Let’s face it. Children dream big. At least they should! To them, everything is possible. I remember my three-year-old daughter Lindsay telling me she wanted to become a unicorn when she grew up. Although Lindsay’s dream was a fantasy, it demonstrates how a young child’s mind believes anything is possible. They are not afraid to dream. They yearn for anything and everything. But as they grow older, some kids learn otherwise. Unfortunately, they learn to doubt, to fear, and to settle. I wanted to be an author when I was ten-years-old, and I wrote my first nonfiction book titled Horses, Horses, Horses. But as I yearned to follow my dream, I was warned that getting a book published was about impossible. My mom, a former librarian said, “You need a real job.” So, I settled. I went to college to become a dental hygienist. Now, eight published books later, I can say dreams do come true—even ones that seem impossible.

Challenge the Possibilities!

I am not alone. As a young boy, my husband drove his go-kart around the circular driveway in front of his elementary school, pretending to race in the Indianapolis 500. Some people laughed at his aspirations, not believing that a former farmer could make it in the big-leagues of auto racing as one of the top 33 drivers in the world. He not only competed in the Indy 500, he also raced in the Daytona 500. As a young boy, Wayne Lane wanted to be a pilot. Some days, he’d tie a string from a curtain rod to a chair in his living room. After he attached two hooks to the top of his model airplanes, he watched them soar. At his local library, he read books of faraway places. In 1971, it was unusual for a black man to pursue a career in aviation. But Wayne focused on his dream and became Captain Wayne Lane. The youngest man to fly solo around the world was a refugee from Jamaica. Barrington Irving grew up in an impoverished area, and he built his airplane from spare parts. And just like Barrington, Shaesta Waiz soared into history as the youngest woman to circle the globe in a single-engine airplane. A refugee herself, Shaesta overcame racial discrimination and poverty to follow her dream in becoming the only female from Afghanistan to fly around the world. Shaesta also fought through gender roles as family members told her that girls did not belong in the cockpit of an airplane. Shaesta is living proof that with hard work, perseverance, and determination—anything is possible!

Let Their Dreams Soar

Dreamers usually encounter naysayers. Big and little dreamers. But as parents and caregivers of these little people, don’t we owe it to them to encourage their aspirations. And why not dream big? Like really big! I’m not talking about impossible big like becoming a unicorn. I’m just saying that we should never tell our children that their dreams are unachievable. Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it!” Wise advice! But just dreaming isn’t enough. We need to encourage our kids to work hard for their goals. Let’s be their biggest cheerleaders! Be sure to let them know that life is not always fair, and some doors may shut, but we must keep knocking until a door opens. Some might argue that you shouldn’t encourage your kids to chase after really big dreams because it sets them up for disappointment or even failure. But isn’t failure our best teacher? I think we should tell our kids that each failure is a stepping stone to success. After all, you grow through what you go through. There is joy in the journey and every failure is a stepping stone to success. So encourage your children to believe in their dreams and to challenge the possibilities. Read aloud Fly, Girl, Fly: Shaesta Waiz Soars Around the World and let Shaesta’s inspiring story excite the next generation to follow dreams of their very own.

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February 29, 2020

The students and staff at Woodland Intermediate school were so inviting and enthusiastic! I shared my writing process and gave the students twenty minutes to write a narrative nonfiction piece of their own. The results: OUTSTANDING!!

Thank you for inviting me to your school Mrs. Harbal and Mr. Doughty!

What a great day.

Books at the Beach

June 16, 2019

Amazing book signing. Book lovers! Great staff! Fun times!

New York City or bust!

Bill WYNNE and I gave a book presentation and had a book signing at the Museum of the Dog on Park Avenue in NYC. Susan Bahary, who created Smoky’s bronze sculpture, flew in from California! Great time had by all!!

Career Day at Blendon Middle School

Spent the day doing what I love best–inspiring the next generation to have goals and follow their dreams!

I spent two days at Creekview Intermediate and met some amazing students.

Dreams Really Do Come True

During my author visits, I discuss the importance of having a dream, and following it–even when others tell you to give up on your dreams. The truth: Failure is just a stepping stone to success. Sometimes the lessons learned from failures are greater than lessons learned from success. I love when the students share their dreams. We have future astronauts, school teachers, marine biologists, NFL football players, and engineers on the way! My favorite response of the two-day school visit was: My dream is for there to be no more wars and have peace in the world. I say AMEN to that young man. This was such an appropriate statement since we had been celebrating Veteran’s Day, and sharing stories about all of the hardships and atrocities our soldiers lived through to ensure our freedom. We talked about the prisoners of war and how they used poetry to endure their captivity.  The POW’s said that their captors took away their freedom and their dignity, but they did not have the power to take their words. We used my latest book, Bonded by Battle, to learn about the military war dogs and the soldiers as they fought the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We ended each day with a writing workshop. The imaginations and the talent of these young people was nothing short of awe-inspiring.img_0643

Two Incredible Days at Creekview Intermediate School in Marysville

Challenge the Possibilities and Follow Your Dreams!

This past week I had the great fortune to celebrate Veteran’s Day with the students and staff at Creekview. Both fifth and sixth graders generously shared their dreams with me. We can look forward to some future NFL football players, school teachers, astronauts, and engineers. My favorite answer: My dream is for there to be no more wars and I dream of peace on earth. I said a big, AMEN to that young man. We had been discussing the hardships and atrocities out men and women in uniform endured to secure our freedom in this great country. We also discussed the four-footed soldiers that are celebrated in my new book, Bonded by Battle. The students learned about a bunch of loyal military war dogs and the bonds they formed with our soldiers. We wrapped up each day with a narrative nonfiction writing workshop. What a blessing to hear the students read their awe-inspiring work at the end of each session. The students also created some wonderful posters about certain military war dogs. What a wonderful way to celebrate our freedom and Veteran’s Day. Thanks Creekview staff and students, and thanks for the delicious donuts too!

Eagle Point ES in Rossford Ohio rocks! Congrats to the CARE award winners on Claire’s Day. What an awesome event and a great way to celebrate literacy. 

Bonded by Battle

My new book, Bonded by Battle- The Powerful Friendships of Military Dogs and Soldiers from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom will soon be here! Here is a link to the book trailer and a place to pre-order.