Written by Noelle Witt, Editorial@antonnews.com Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
Recent Massapequa graduate Paige Snider received a unique opportunity when Bish Bash Books published a book she had written and illustrated when she was just 10 years old.
The book, entitled My Special Family, explores Snider’s experience living with two older brothers with autism spectrum disorder. Told from a child’s perspective, My Special Family provides young readers with a new understanding of autism, through an accessible story and vibrant drawings.
Paige Snider, now 19 and a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, originally wrote My Special Family for the Massapequa Magnet program. Students were asked to become experts in a subject of their choice, and then to creatively present their projects.
“I decided to do my project on my brothers and my family because it was something important to me that I could become an expert in,” Snider said. “I made a children’s book because I thought it would be a good way to make it understandable for everybody.”
Snider’s interest in sharing her experience and raising autism awareness has grown in the past 10 years. When Steve and Dannie Taylor of Bish Bash Books, a New York publishing company, expressed interest in publishing My Special Family as an eBook for Autism Awareness Month, Snider was ecstatic. “I kept the book’s original illustrations but added an afterword to give readers an update on what I’m doing now,” Snider said. “I chose to do a new style of illustration to show some progression in my work.”
Snider also decided to narrate the eBook in order to engage younger children who cannot yet read on their own. “I hope the narration will allow kids to learn from My Special Family, even if they aren’t advanced readers,” said Snider.
Since the book’s April 1 iBookstore debut, Snider has continued her mission to spread autism awareness throughout the Long Island community. She recently visited Connolly Elementary School in Glen Cove to share My Special Family with a fifth grade class. Students viewed the eBook’s illustrations on a Smart Board projector, as Snider read aloud.
Nancy Cox, who teaches fifth grade, believes that the story positively impacted students. “We are a very diverse community,” Cox said. “From the beginning of the year, I have tried to reinforce the idea that everyone is different and that we should be accepting of strengths and weaknesses. When I read the book, I thought it fit this perfectly.”
Cox said that the students enjoyed My Special Family and were eager to ask Snider questions after she read to them. “The kids got a kick out of the fact that Snider was their age when she wrote the book and now she is in college and has been published,” Cox said. “They thought it was amazing.”
In the future, Snider hopes to visit more classrooms and to continue to share her story. “I think My Special Family will contribute to autism awareness by making autism a little easier to understand,” Snider said. “If children can be educated on autism at a younger age, it’ll help to make it better understood and more accepted.”
My Special Family is available from the iBookstore for $5.99.