As a writer, one major challenge is finding a niche. Reaching the audience who appreciates your work and finding the right fit can be a very elusive undertaking.
My projects tend to come from the heart, without particular emphasis on mass appeal. So how does one shine a light on societal issues that tend to get swept under the carpet, but in an appealing way?
My “Dominick the Donkey” series of children’s books faced just that dilemma. The basic introduction to animal advocacy began with A New Home for Dominick and is soon to be followed by A New Family for Dominick.
Thanks to several teachers willing to give Dominick valuable time in their classrooms, they have proven that incorporating Dominick into their curriculum provides many aspects for learning and growth of their students.
One teacher, Beth Bourdon, took the opportunity to the max. After reading A New Home for Dominick to her third grade class, she engaged her students in a discussion, then had each one draw or paint a picture and write a letter to me explaining what they liked about the book and asking any questions they had.
Not only did her class project pique and hold the students’ interest, but it challenged many key learning aspects, such as critical thinking, writing, communication, and creative expression through art.
The children’s letters and pictures melted my heart, but also helped me understand that an introduction to animal advocacy in the classroom, in an informal setting, can be a fruitful and enjoyable way to reach our youngest advocates.
As an author, I was very touched by many comments, like the one from a precious little girl:
I loved how you used nice words, what my class calls dazzling words or something like that. On a scale from 1-10, your book was 100!
But as an animal lover, my heart sank when I read the following:
I support my animals good but if my dog or cat poops or pees on the floor, I whack them but no(t) hard so they would bite me.
This abuse is learned behavior. Hit them, but not hard enough so they will bite you… No. No. NO.
This is exactly the type of behavior we want to teach the children not to do.
At the bottom of his letter, he stated:
PS – Mrs. Bourdon says not to whack my animals but train them.
YES! Thank you, Mrs. Bourdon!
Through her examples, Mrs. Bourdon convinced me that A New Home for Dominick and A New Family for Dominick can provide a valuable classroom lesson.
Perhaps you know an early elementary teacher who is looking for unique and meaningful material?
A New Home for Dominick and A New Family for Dominick are based on real characters and situations at RVR Horse Rescue, in Riverview Florida. In the first installment, Dominick the donkey is rescued and finds a new best friend in the whole wide world, Charity the old horse. In the second installment, to be released in August 2016, Dominick finds his real-life forever family. (LIKE my Facebook page – Shirley Alarie – to stay tuned for book release details.)
Proceeds from the books benefit non-profit RVR Horse Rescue.
Scroll down to see all the amazing letters and pictures from the class!
A link to book can be found HERE.