Bethanie Allen: I was working with a kiddo at Schreiber, working on shoe tying. None of the stories I was using were amusing to him – the bunny ear thing, the tree and the rabbit – none of it was getting his attention.
I was starting the process over again – you know, doing the X – and I was, like, what can I do? And the thought of a pirate story just popped into my head . And every step after that was pirate related, this whole journey of finding treasure… it kept his attention the whole time. And he was able to repeat the directions back to me, which was awesome, because his attention was not the best.
I kept doing it quite a bit with him to watch the carryover. And then I started to use it with every kid I had shoe tying goals for.
DF: At some point, then, you had the idea to turn this into a story book?
BA: I actually think Bernie (Hershey) mentioned it right after I told her about it. And then it was one of those things that just sat in the back of my mind. I knew a visual cue would help carry the story even more.
I tried to send the story out to some publishers, and it wasn’t getting picked up, which was really defeating. I talked to my husband about, and I finally said, “We just need to self-publish this.” I wanted to get it out to more people, and I knew it would really have an impact for independent shoe tying
DF: You had to learn how to publish a book. How did that process work?
First, I had to find an illustrator. We ended up finding an experienced illustrator online, Toby Mikle. He was able to help guide me through the process.
We started in October, and it took about 3 months. He got the illustrations done really fast. It took a lot of re-editing and making lots of little changes, then I finally had to hit submit.
It’s an exciting process, but it’s filled with anxious thoughts: What is everyone going to think about this?
DF: The book is out now?
BA: Yes, the book was released Jan. 11. I’ve been marketing it through Facebook and selling it on Amazon, and I have a few printed copies that I can sell. I would love to have it stocked in therapy places or toy stores or book stores. I’m working on connecting with locally owned, mom-and-pop kind of places.
DF: How will it feel to come back to Schreiber with your book?
BA: It means so much to come back and do (the book event) where it all started. This might sound corny, but it’s almost like I’m following the map back to Schreiber.
It was so hard to leave Schreiber, I can’t even tell you… I’m married now. We have a great kid. I wouldn’t change it for the world. In a way, it’s like this book is a piece of Schreiber that’s with me all the time.
Bethanie Allen works at Kidswork Therapy Center in Union County. She lives near Lewisburg with her husband Josh and their 2-year-old son Braxton.