Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and forty-first, is of children’s author Lou Honderich. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Lou Honderich is a former teacher and life-long horsewoman. During her teaching career she taught Kindergarten, first grade and elementary PE. Her hearing loss as an adult led her to the deaf community, sign language, and a new direction in teaching. She began to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing students in self-contained classrooms, mainstream situations, in summer camps and therapeutic horseback riding programs.
Lou and her husband live on a small farm in northwest Arkansas with their horses, dogs, cats and chickens. They have five children and seven grandchildren. Lou Honderich continues to enjoy riding as well as writing, and is currently at work on her next book.
And now from the author herself:
When my hearing loss progressed from mildly hard-of-hearing to deaf, I had two choices. I could mourn for what was no longer possible, or I could find a new way of being. I chose to learn more about deafness, deaf culture and sign language.
So, I made some deaf friends, took classes in American Sign Language and began attending a deaf church. At Gallaudet, the university for the deaf in Washington, DC, I lived in the dorm while attending summer school, and was immersed in ASL. Learning a new language as an adult was difficult. I did not become, nor will I ever be, a truly eloquent signer. It took awhile to accept that fact.
Once I could sign well enough to be of use in a classroom, I landed a job as an interpreter for a high school boy I will call Edward. Since I did not hear enough to interpret lectures, I went with him to hands-on classes such as computers, art, and PE, while a hearing interpreter met him for English, history and science. Fortunately for all of us, we were a very compatible team. Once Edward and I established a real working relationship I felt ready to tackle a math class with him.
The algebra teacher was very accommodating and kind, putting all the explanations on the board for us to read. Algebra had been my favorite math class in high school, so I was able to tutor him during free study time. By the end of the year Edward’s test scores and homework average made him the highest achieving algebra student in school. The giant candy bar I bought before each test as a reward for an “A” no doubt motivated a boy with a sweet tooth! At the school’s year-end awards ceremony he received an award for his achievement and was rewarded with a standing ovation.
But my real love was working with elementary students since I had taught Kindergarten and first grade before the hearing loss. After Edward graduated from high school, I began to work in three different public schools with children who had hearing loss. The classrooms were for Kindergarten through fifth grade students. The most exciting part of teaching in this setting was helping youngsters who arrived at school with no language begin to understand and communicate in ASL.
It is believed by many parents that if they learn to sign for their deaf child, he or she will not learn English. The exact opposite has been proven, but still, most hearing parents do not sign with their deaf or hard-of-hearing children. Imagine a child coming to school without the most elementary ability to communicate. They are frustrated and can be discipline problems. The teachers I worked with were masters at capturing their interest and starting the kids on the road to communication.
Working with these children gave me the idea to write a book for them and about their way of dealing with school and life in general. As a horsewoman I wanted to incorporate horses in the story, so the concept of RICKI was born, a book about a deaf girl who loves horses. I wanted the kids I knew at school to have a story about a child they could relate to, someone like them. My hope is for readers of all ages, hearing and deaf, to read and enjoy RICKI.
You can find more about Lou and her writing via…
- Website: http://www.louhonderich.com
- Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/lou.honderich
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6973827.Lou_Honderich
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Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
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