The blog's been a little neglected lately with the launch of Soaring Soren and all the goings on. I thought I'd try to rectify that by sharing some exciting plans.
When I wrote Soaring Soren, or even before that when I toyed with the idea of writing it, I did so with the hope that children everywhere could come to know and love Soren. I hoped he could inspire in them the willingness to try and to believe in themselves, that he always inspired in me and in so many others who met him "in real life." So when Kelli Muse of New Bern, NC approached me about doing a lesson plan with over 1,100 kindergarten students in her school district, I was thrilled.
Kelli is a fellow French Bulldog lover who shares her home and life with two frog-ish imps named Junior and Elmer. She says of them, "they couldn't be more different but I'm crazy about both of them. " After losing her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Kelli began looking for a new breed and found herself drawn to the French Bulldog. "They're sturdy, funny, love people and are just great companions," Kelli told me, and says she'll never be without a French Bulldog again. Her first Frenchie, Junior, has been quite successful in the show ring as well, recently finishing his Championship. Kelli says what she enjoys most about showing Junior is "meeting new people who love Frenchies as much as I do."
Kelli has two children of her own and comes from a family of educators, including college professors, elementary school teachers and guidance counselors. Before coming to work with the Board of Education, she worked in the field of developmentally delayed children and had a special interest in working with children with reading challenges. She and her dog volunteered at Brinson Memorial Elementary so that children with difficulty reading could read to him, and she says "it was really something to see their progress."
I asked Kelli why she wanted to have their district's kindergartners read Soaring Soren and she had this to say: "Soaring Soren inspires me! Here's this short, heavy boned little guy doing what he's not supposed to be able to do. Ok, maybe that's wrong....he can do it, but he shouldn't be able to do it well. But he doesn't know that. Why? Nobody told him he couldn't, shouldn't. Kids today hear that often, from peers, siblings, parents. Soren had people backing him up. Standing beside him, saying, "YES YOU CAN!" Our children need to know, yes they can! Dream your dreams, work hard. Find someone, anyone, to believe in you, to help you, and you can be Soren."
Kelli chose the Kindergarten classes for this reading lesson because they are just starting out with their school careers. She hoped they would take away a valuable lesson that would help them succeed. "This is a reading lesson, but, it's also a moral lesson. A character building lesson. I see the moral lesson as the BIG one here--to support each other, to help each other, to encourage each other. To dream, dream big and go after it!"
Kelli hopes this lesson will not only encourage children to read, citing that if you can read you can do anything. But she also hopes it might encourage them to "be a little kinder, work a little harder, dream a little bigger. There are so many lessons you can get from this book--to live! To live BIG!"
She also hopes the lesson will be a way to share her love for animals. "When I think about how much Junior and Elmer mean to me, it makes me tear up sometimes. They love me heart and soul."
In a few weeks, I'll have the great fortune to meet Kelli in person, as well as several of the Kindergarten classes that are reading Soaring Soren. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to see my dream of Soren inspiring children come to life. And I'm thrilled to have the chance to get to know Kelli, who shares my vision and hopes for Soren's book. She says, "I want these kids to know love, support, and achieving your dreams. Not all of them get that support. Soren can be their support. He'll be there smiling on a page--all they'll have to do is reach for the book." I couldn't ask for better than that!