Interview with children’s author Kristi O’Callahan

My special guest
today is children’s author Kristi
O’Callahan
. We’re chatting about her new book, Jacob and Sam: A Friendship Story.
Bio:
Kristi O’Callahan is a Special Education teacher with
over 13 years of teaching experience in self-contained and integrated
classrooms. While working in the field of Early Intervention, Kristi made the
time to fulfill her passion of creating awareness for children with
unique-abilities. The vision for her stories is to create a platform of
resources for educators and therapists. A platform that creates feelings and
appreciation of characters all children can relate to. Her Special Senses organization
offers insight to both general and special needs children because they all
deserve a special sense of identity.
Kristi is originally from New York and now resides in
South Carolina with her husband and 2 boys.
Welcome, Kristi. Please tell us about your current
release.
Jacob and Sam: A Friendship Story is a book about just that – children finding friendship
through kindness. It is my great honor to offer awareness for all children and
this short story introduces us to Sam, a child with autism. Jacob is a new
student in an inclusion classroom. Early on, he wants to be-friend Sam an
autistic boy. Jacob does not understand why Sam will not socialize with his
peers. He questions why Sam will not speak or make eye contact, why he wears
headphones and why he doesn’t play outside with the other children. Jacob is
determined to befriend Sam and when he finds common ground, he solicits his
teacher for a special way to share in Sam’s world.
What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration behind this
book derives from my personal experience. When working in a preschool classroom
reading aloud is a daily occurrence. Most of the time I felt let down or
disappointed after reading a book. Not because the book was bad, but because my
student’s couldn’t relate to most of the character’s in the books. I’m creating
these stories because I want children with a disability or a difference to have
a relatable character; at the same time these books can be a resource for
general education children to learn about their peers. Just because a child
wears braces on their legs does not mean they can’t play tag, or if a child
does not communicate with words does not mean they can’t communicate at all. 
What exciting story are you working on next?
The second book in the
series, For Leona, is actually in its
final illustration stage as we speak!! It is about Leona, a little girl in a
wheelchair. After realizing that she is unable to play on her school’s new
playground equipment, Leona is sad and feeling left out. Jacob creates a game
where Leona is center stage around the playground equipment, and can be
included in the fun!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At this point I don’t
necessarily consider myself a “writer”. I think of myself as more of an
educator trying to create awareness for children with disabilities. Awareness
equals acceptance in my mind…so I’m creating awareness one book at a time!!
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day
like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?
I do not write full time,
but I am constantly creating new stories and scenarios. If I read an article on
dyslexia or hear someone discussing their divorce I am thinking of a story to
help the children in those situations, or how can I help their friends
understand what their peer going through.  
When I’m not writing or
working on a book I am taking care of my family. I have two boys who keep me
quite busy and a third on the way!!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure if it’s a quirk,
but it is really important to me that my stories sound like I’m talking to my
student’s. I feel as though I have a natural way with kids especially in the
classroom, so I try and write my books as if I were actually speaking to a room
full of children. (Hope that makes sense lol).
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I was going
to be a teacher. I can honestly say I never thought of being anything else. As
a kid I would make my younger brother and cousin be student’s and actually make
them do work so I could grade it. I remember working on their spelling words
and creating work sheets for them to complete and I would put fun stamps or
stickers on them!! Thinking about it now I’m sure my mom loved it not so sure
my brother and cousin did!!
Anything additional you want to share with the
readers?
In my heart I know these
books are a necessity for all of our children and society as a whole. Remember
with awareness comes acceptance. Children who are different should not be
stared at or made to feel uncomfortable. Most adults do that…let our children
be strong and comfortable approaching children with a unique-ability and
confident to befriend them. An inclusive society is a positive place to be.
Links:

Thanks, Kristi!

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