|Seven-year-old publishes her first book with a little help from mom
|By: ELIZABETH KELLAR | Posted at: NaplesNews.Com on July 13, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up.
With “See What I Can Become,” 7-year-old Elyssa Fernandez has answered that question — and perhaps given her young readers a chance to discover their own professional paths, too. The aspiring author is a first grader at Seacrest Country Day School in Naples.
“It’s about inspiring other people to see what you can be when you grow up,” Elyssa said of her book, which she self-published in September with the help of her mother, Elayna.
Elayna Fernandez is also a self-published author. She has written a guide for businesses to help them navigate the world of social media, and she speaks on the subject. She is also an adult education teacher through Collier County Public Schools and founder of the Positive Mom Foundation, a virtual organization that helps mothers connect for sharing and support.
“She wanted to be published, like me,” Elayna Fernandez said of her daughter. “So that was what she requested, as a birthday present.”
The idea for the book began bubbling long before her daughter’s seventh birthday, Elayna Fernandez explained. With her sister, 8-year-old Elisha, Elyssa enjoys writing and illustrating stories; the pair also penned a tale about an iguana that was afraid of the dark. But it was admiration for a teacher at Seacrest that prompted Elyssa to further artistic endeavors.
“She drew her teacher,” Elayna Fernandez said. “Then she said, I want to do all the professions, all the things you can be.”
In all, the project — almost 20 professions, including astronaut, doctor and ballerina — took Elyssa four days to write and illustrate. And for good measure, the bilingual Elyssa also did the book in Spanish.
Admittedly, “my mommy helped me a little bit,” Elyssa said.
Elayna Fernandez agrees: She did help. But her role was as a guide only, she noted. For example, if her daughter wanted to include a certain profession, but only knew what that career entailed, not the specific name of the job, her mother would supply the missing vocabulary.
Or, if her daughter struggled to visualize what a person would need for their profession — such as a helmet — Mom would dig up a photograph or illustration so that her daughter could draw the proper piece.
“I was really a facilitator, but it was her idea entirely,” Elayna Fernandez said. “It all came from her mind and inspiration.”
As for the Spanish component, that was all Elyssa, her mother said. Although Elayna, Elisha and Elyssa are all bilingual, Elayna Fernandez said it is Elyssa who is the best and quickest translator in the family.
After the book was completed, Elayna Fernandez did the design work on her computer and then sent it off to a self-publishing company in Ohio. She printed 10 copies, expecting to give it to friends and family — and, of course, the Seacrest teacher who inspired the work and to whom “See What I Can Become” is dedicated in part.
However, when Elyssa posted news of the book’s publication to her Facebook page, interest in the book began to grow. Copies of the book began to sell, and Elayna Fernandez created a web page, www.seewhaticanbecome.com, to showcase and sell the $11.95 book.
A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the book will be used to benefit the Positive Mom Foundation in its mission to help mothers raise positive children, Elayna Fernandez said.
For her part, Elyssa has already turned her talents to her next project. With her sister, she is helping to illustrate a book her mother is working on about parenting principles. It has been fascinating to see what her daughters draw for the various principles, Elayna Fernandez said: In the case of “balance,” for example, the girls sketched a seesaw with the sisters on either end and their mom in the middle.
“It’s just very interesting, and the pictures are very beautiful,” Elayna Fernandez said.