This week is the official launch of author Steve Flairty’s first children’s book, Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids (Wind Publications, 2012). The 120-page softcover non-fiction book is written at a 4th-5th grade reading level. Illustrator Rita Delozier-Abshear has crafted sketch-art drawings of the heroes, adding a personal and inviting touch to the real-life characters.
Flairty hopes to have the book placed in every elementary school in the state, stating: “Our youth all around Kentucky are in need of positive role models who remind them of some of the special people in their neighborhoods…individuals who overcome extreme personal challenges and/or show sacrifice in service to others.” Flairty taught 28 years in Kentucky’s public schools, mostly as a 4th grade teacher. Currently, he teaches part-time, is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly as well as writing a weekly column for KyForward.com in which he has shared some of the stories appearing in his new book.
Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids follows three other books he has published since 2005, Tim Farmer: A Kentucky Woodsman Restored and two volumes of Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes (regular editions).
The children’s book is available online and at these Lexington bookstores: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Book Cents (Brannon Crossings), MorrisBook Shop, and Barnes and Noble.
Following is the introduction to his new book…
In elementary school, I spent many happy times in the library/duplicating room at Grants Lick Elementary School searching for just the right book, usually a biography. I liked non- fiction, and I wanted to read about historical persons who seemed to be bigger than life itself–and hoped that this naïve little boy could be “as big” someday, too.
The room was so small that my teacher would allow only a few students at a time to leave the regular classroom to browse the shelves, and only for a short while so that every class member could get a turn. In this “library closet,” as my classmate Billie Jo Chaplin called it, I’d sprawl down on the floor to get a good look at the bottom shelf where the American biography series’ titles sat upright, showing on the spines stars like Kit Carson, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and many of our presidents. Over time, I read most of them; I especially liked the ones of Kentuckians, including Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone and Henry Clay. Each of them had courage, was wise, and they made my state look good. I looked at the people in those books as my personal heroes — almost as much as my favorite basketball players on the Kentucky Wildcats. And that was sure saying a lot!
As I grew older, I continued to choose famous heroic figures as an important part of what I read, but I also began to notice special people in my community as they lived out their daily lives right in front of me. Some were overcomers, born poor or with physical challenges. Some simply were encouragers or helpers.
Those individuals were not “famous” in the way of those books I read, but they were shining stars in my eyes. They lived quiet, caring and courageous lives, and folks around my community surely looked up to them. My Aunt Thelma, for example, was always taking food to the sick or visiting lonely senior citizens at nursing homes. Two different families often drove ten miles out of their way to take me to church. My Little League baseball manager didn’t curse and seldom threw a temper tantrum. And despite the fact I wasn’t good enough to play much, he always made me feel special by bragging on my good fielding as I never figured out how to hit the ball.
Later, when I graduated from college and took a teaching job in Winchester at a very low salary, George Schnorr took a day out of his life and helped me find an affordable apartment. There were many more individuals like the ones mentioned, and you, the reader, likely can think of special persons in your life, too.
Many decades later, I am thankful for the difference these local citizens made in me as a youngster lacking in confidence and needing some solid, trustworthy guidance. These were my friends, fellow Kentuckians and everyday heroes.
Today, I seek to honor and shine light on such individuals. A sense of thankfulness and excitement inspires me to devote much of my time these days to interviewing like persons…now, as author of the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes book series.
I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the series on statewide TV and many radio stations. With all the positive feedback, however, it is clear to me that an important audience for the books, elementary students, has not been served most fully. Our young people need good role models, especially ones outside of the narrow realm of sports “heroes.”
I decided to do something to improve the situation.
As a retired elementary teacher who still teaches part-time, I enjoy telling a selection of the dozens of published stories to classes. The stories told orally draw much interest, but the actual book reading level for many elementary students is difficult, presenting an obstacle to their embracing the books as checkout material.
This young people’s version of the series, I hope, will go a long way to address that concern.
In offering Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids, my hope is that elementary students, especially intermediate readers, will be drawn to an easy-to-read style that captures their imaginations, and, yes, even inspires them to do what I like to call “greater works of character.”
Kids’ includes an inviting, light-hearted assortment of sketch art images of the heroes, drawn by talented illustrator, Rita Abshear. Most of the stories are adapted from both volumes one and two of Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes, and included are a number of new accounts of younger people who have performed admirable acts, often despite difficult odds.
In summary, I want Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids to be a good and lasting way to connect with inspiration with our state’s most precious resource–children. For them, I’m hoping it will be a frequent choice to check out of their own library closet!
Steve Flairty is a life-long Kentuckian, a teacher, public speaker and an author of four books, a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and two “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes,” collections of stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. The fourth is “Everyday Heroes for Kids,” released in June 2012. Steve is a correspondent for Kentucky Monthly. His column for KyForward appears weekly. He invites you to “like” his Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids page on Facebook. He is available for speaking engagements to audiences of all age levels to share about the people he has met in searching for everyday heroes in the Bluegrass state. Contact him at email@example.com.