With the opening of hurricane season, a powerful children's book blows in, addressing the often-ignored issue of homelessness. A Family of Five or Six by Naperville (IL) author Pat Van Doren tells the story of Michael and his family--their house destroyed in a hurricane--and their experiences coping with homelessness.
Even before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Pat had been working on this, her second children's book addressing homelessness. Her first, Where Can I Build My Volcano?, a self-published book that has sold over 6,000 copies since first released in 1998, has won national acclaim including the 2006 Outstanding Media award from NAEHCY, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
The unusual twist to this book comes from Florida, a group of 5th and 6th graders at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, and their "energizer bunny" teacher Mrs. Barbie Monty, who guides her students' learning process but lets them have at it. She had received a copy of Volcano and her kids wanted to convert it into a play for their major end-of-the-year performance. She contacted HEAR US, who gave her Pat's info, and a bond was formed.
Pat ended up getting more help than she initially asked for--as the kids provided illustrations for the inside of the book. They also shared their hurricane experiences so Pat would get the details right. They had a weekly conference call which meant the kids had to give up their lunch to participate. They met that requirement plus worked on deadline, providing artwork that tells this children's story with obvious input from children.
Pat's organization, It's About the Children, a part of HEAR US Inc., continues to use children's books and powerful photos of children in homeless situations to convey the realities of over 1.5 million homeless children and youth in America.
The books sell for $15 plus postage. Contact Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org, 630/355-5859, to purchase books or for more information.
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