Author Chats: Kimberlee Anne King

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Author Chats: Kimberlee Anne King

Kimberlee Anne King knows the challenges of twice-exceptionality from the inside out. She is a 2E herself, raising seven children, several of whom are twice-exceptional. Her work addresses the tendency of parents to neglect their own self-care with a comforting mantra:  Work on yourself and your children will follow.

Read: PARENTING IS HARD. SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL: A HANDBOOK FOR PARENTS ON THE BRINK

Tell us a little about you. Besides being an author, what else do you do?

I am the mother of 7 (4 biological children and 3 stepsons). That currently takes up most of my time especially since many of them have chronic medical conditions and special needs (aka lots of appointments). My husband and I own Inspired Attention, Inc. We both are professionally trained life coaches. Historically, my husband has specialized in ADHD adolescents and adults, and I have worked primarily with families with extraordinary children (e.g. gifted, twice exceptional, challenged). I have just earned my Mh.D (Doctor of Metaphysics and Healing) and am working on a Ph.D. in Integrative and Preventative Healing/Transpersonal Psychology. I work in the healing arts and research what cannot be explained by Newtonian physics. I also write a Blog on various topics we address in our work which may include personal growth, parenting, healing, learning disabilities, neuroscience research, relationships, giftedness, and spirituality. Also, I have worked as an educational advocate and consultant and have served on the Board of Trustees of an independent school for the gifted for many years. I love plants (the outdoor variety), yoga, and art. I have a Bachelors of Business Administration in Economics from the University of Iowa where I studied abroad at Cambridge. I studied art and law at Northwestern while I worked as an Information Systems Consultant before I had so many kids.

What books have you written? 

My first book (I hope there will be many more) is Parenting is Hard. Suffering is Optional. A Handbook for Parents on the Brink.

Who is your ideal audience?

Honestly, anyone with parents. My book speaks directly to parents (especially parents of challenging children), however, many readers who are not parents (even teens) have loved the insight they have gained about their own relationship with their parents and other people.

How do your books address the particular reading needs of Background Noise Books audiences?

Given my children have taught me more than I could ever write, I feel that the Background Noise Books audience would really enjoy hearing my story. I and my children are twice exceptional, gifted, physically disabled, and learning disordered. I am dyslexic (an avid avoidant reader) and have some accelerated readers as children. I have lived this life and have helped my children for 20 years. I hope that some of my lessons learned can benefit others. At the very least, it is nice for people to know they are not alone in their struggle.

Which of the books you’ve written is your personal favorite?

So far, Parenting is Hard. Suffering is Optional. It is my only published work as of yet.

Who is your favorite author?

Tie between Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Louis Cozolino. Their books are groundbreaking in terms of how people really function. I do not read much nonfiction given my dyslexia. I have to admit I do love the Harry Potter books!

Is there a child with special needs in your family or classroom? How do you help them with reading?

Six of the children in my household have special needs. My oldest son is profoundly gifted, has a vision challenge, and a genetic disorder. Reading is not his favorite when it is not on his terms. So, to get through school, I had to read all his novels aloud to him. To keep him on task, we would stop every few pages and discuss (he would mostly critique the author! Ha!). It did take forever. Yes, it was worth it. He never forgets anything, so it was satisfying to know I was implanting literature in his brain for life. My youngest daughter is highly fluent in reading and extremely poor at comprehension due to brain damage. We have tried many tutoring interventions. She likes the idea of books, so we slowly work our way up to more advanced material. She is in a highly specialized reading program at her school that is working wonders. Progress is slow but steady. We never give up. The others have reading challenges that relate more to boredom. If they are not stimulated by the material it is difficult for them to engage. We have all kinds of tricks to overcome that including just not reading.

What are you working on next?

I am working on my blog, Inspired Attention. primarily. I am hoping that the material generated in the blog posts will lead to my next book. I have about 50 posts currently!

What else would you like readers to know about you and your work?

It may seem like I do a lot of different things (author, life coach, parent, educational consultant, healer, student, etc.). In reality, I am doing one thing. I am working on myself to become the best version of myself possible. I follow areas of study that interest me, especially the human psyche, which usually leads me to my next area of study. As I learn and grow I am delighted that I am able to share some of what I have learned with others. I believe that modeling the person we would want to be despite our challenges is the most powerful way to help others.

Listen to Kimberlee talk about PARENTING IS HARD on Dr. Dan Peters’ podcast.

Buy this book at Amazon.

Author Chat: Melissa-Sue John

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Author Chats: Melissa-Sue John, Ph.D.

Melissa-Sue John is focused on bringing diversity to children’s literature through her own publishing company, Lauren Simone Publishing House. Along with her daughter/partners, she provides a platform for reaching kids from all backgrounds and with all kinds of disabilities, as well as helping young authors and illustrators experience writing and illustrating their own works.

See: OLIVIA CONNECTS

Tell us a little about you. Besides being an author, what else do you like to do? 

I am a social psychologist by training. I teach at Eastern Connecticut State University and do research for the Seeds to STEM Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I am also passionate about social issues. I consider myself a budding activist. I have participated in a few rallies against deportation and for an increase in minimum wages. I enjoy yoga, but am a little out of practice, now.

What books have you written?

I have written 5 books with my daughters, the Olivia Lauren book series:

OCCUPATIONS A to Z,  a child-appropriate guide to modern and traditional careers.

GUIDE TO BECOMING AN ACTOR helps other parents interested in getting their children into the entertainment industry.

OLIVIA TRAVELS uses rhyme and homonyms to teach about transportation.

OLIVIA CONNECTS teaches about different styles of communication and communication devices, as well as communication used by those with physical challenges.

A GUIDE TO THINGS WE WEAR, a practical and multicultural approach to looking at when and why we wear the different things we do.

Describe your ideal reader. 

My target audience is children of all races, ethnicities, creeds, and nationalities age 4 to 12 years old.

How do your books address the particular reading needs of Background Noise Books audiences?

The Olivia Lauren series empowers all children by being inclusive and representative of gender, race, and ability. We include new vocabulary and history to engage the gifted students. We reinforce learning by using glossaries and reading reviews. We have representative characters in the foreground of the story to show having a disability does not stop you from living. We have characters with blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, and wheelchair bound interacting with abled children.

Which of the books you’ve written is your personal favorite?

Every new book becomes my favorite. Each book is better than the next as I get to execute new ideas and become a better writer and am more open to constructive criticism. With that said, my favorite to read is OLIVIA TRAVELS. It is playful and rhythmic. The others are a more educational.

Who is your favorite author?

Peggy Parish is one of my favorite authors of children’s stories. Amelia Bedelia books are hilarious. For my own guilty pleasure, I am a Terry McMillian fan.

Do you know a child with special needs? How do your books help them?

I do know children with special needs. Olivia Connects shows that there are several ways to communicate. Having autism and not being able to express yourself verbally doesn’t exclude you from communicating.

What are you working on next?

I am working to increase the representation of diverse characters in STEM. I have a list of STEM topics that I would like to cover. It will take much more research and creativity on my part.

What else would you like readers to know about you?

I am a co-investigator on a project developing STEM curriculum for PreK students. We are using literature to teach engineering and problem-solving. So few books have persons of color or those with physical challenges. Both this problem and having two daughters that I want to see themselves as active agents motivated me to write children’s books.

Author Chats: Christine Laforet

Author Chats: Christine Laforet

Teachers are the front line support for students who struggle with the anxiety that comes with being a different kid. If you’re the parent of a gifted child, or one with ASD, ADHD, Dyslexia or other learning disabling conditions, you know that anxiety is part of the package. It’s refreshing to meet author/teachers like Christine who write with an understanding of how these kids are wired and how to help them adapt.

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To learn more about the
Being Bree Series, visit www.christinesromeklaforet.com  or connect with Chris on Twitter @chrislaforet1

Tell us a little about you. Besides being an author, what else do you do?

I received my M.A.Ed. from Baldwin-Wallace University and taught elementary and middle school students in the Cleveland area before getting married and becoming a stay-at-home mom. My children are older now, so I’m spending a lot of time at school sporting events and musical performances —and even more time driving kids around! I often write “on the go” and enjoy following blogs and participating in local critique groups.

What books have you written?

Bree and the Nametag Worries is the first book in the Being Bree chapter book series for young readers, ages 5-7. Readers meet Bree Wilson, a gifted six-year-old whose imagination spins her worries out of control.

It’s the start of a new school year, and Bree worries about the first day of school. At least her nametag will help her make friends so she’s not stuck playing one-kid tag at recess. But what if giant ants take her nametag to a picnic? Or what if stinky lunch fumes melt it? Taking belly breaths calms Bree’s worries …until her nametag disappears. How will she make friends without one?

What is your ideal audience?

Even though Bree and the Nametag Worries is written from the perspective of a gifted six-year-old, the book would be appropriate for any beginning reader. The chapter book format makes it an ideal read-aloud, and Bree’s calming down techniques could help all children.

How do your books address the particular reading needs of Background Noise Books audiences?

Often times, gifted children begin reading at a young age, and it’s important to provide appropriate reading material. In the Being Bree Series, beginning readers gain confidence when reading independently and use higher-order thinking skills like making predictions and inferences as they read. Kids can also analyze Bree’s actions and apply that knowledge to their own day-to-day activities.

Bree, like many gifted children, faces challenges due to her intense emotions and difficulty connecting with peers. Throughout the series, Bree recognizes when her feelings change and then models calm down techniques to regain self-control, providing readers with a beneficial tool when managing their own behavior. Readers who identify with Bree and her creative way of thinking may also find humor in her mishaps and exaggerations.

Who is your favorite author?

I read a lot of children’s books, especially chapter book series, so I’m having a hard time choosing just one author. Since I’m a huge fan of humorous, school-themed books, my favorite authors include Barbara Park, Mary Amato, Dav Pilkey, Dan Gutman, and Jeff Kinney.

Is there a child with special needs in your family or classroom? How do you help them with reading?

I’ve been blessed with children on the gifted spectrum, and they learned to read the same way I taught my inner-city students (just at an earlier age). By teaching phonemic awareness skills and using repetition, children gain confidence when reading which makes the transition to more complex texts less intimidating.

What are you working on next?

Book 2 in the Being Bree Series, Bree and the Loose Tooth Worries, releases April 2018. Bree worries about losing her first tooth until she finds out that the tooth fairy brought a classmate a bright and shiny ring. Bree wants one, too, especially since she’ll need it to be in The Girls with Bling Club. But when Bree accidentally swallows her tooth, she faces a new set of worries to overcome and problems to solve.