The Goal was to be Fun and Educational
Once the seed was planted and the idea for Tommy Wants a Guide began to grow, it was my goal from the start that the book would be fun and educational. Kids are sponges for information, so there was a great opportunity to have some fun with the story and to teach a little bit about guide dogs and the etiquette that goes with them.
A lady once shared with me that she remembered a presentation by someone from CNIB when she was in Grade three and how it stuck with her. She was close to 50 years old when she told me that story. That showed me the value in being able to teach kids through a fun little story. On another occasion, a friend of mine, who is a guide dog handler, gave a presentation to some kids at a daycare about her life with sight loss and how her guide dog helps her. A week later, I was walking down the stairs of our office building with my friend and her dog when one of the kids, a young girl about four years old, pointed to the dog and told her father, “See that dog? That’s a working dog and we can’t touch it.”
I’m not able to be in every school or every daycare to talk about guide dogs, and neither can my friend with her companion, but because CNIB was kind enough to let me borrow some material from their website and add it to the book, the teaching can reach many more young readers, and with any luck, plant a seed that lasts a lifetime.