These are the images that fill Paul Asjes with joy, the reason he became a teacher 11 years ago following in his mother’s footsteps, and the motivation to go beyond the classroom and self-publish two children’s books.
“I decided to write a book like the one I would have liked to read as a child and that my students could enjoy. For me the most important thing is to sow a love for reading and books”, says this math and English teacher.
His students at the Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the Bronx already know how to read, but many did not grow up with the love for literature that Asjes believes should be promoted from an early age, with bedtime stories.
For them, and to have that impact on the Latino diaspora, he undertook the task of publishing the Spanish version of his first volume: “El Primer Invierno de Isaías”.
“Many of my students are learning English, because they are immigrants or children of immigrants, or they have bilingual families and I want them to learn both languages and to discover the magic of literature”, assures Asjes.
The images on its pages had to be as moving as the story of a deer, a duck and a fish, separated by the cold season but with an unbreakable bond of friendship.
“I wanted to have control of the creative process, choose the illustrations and collaborate with an artist for my books. I found a wonderful illustrator through a friend and her work brought my story to life,” she adds.
And the author worked with Nyambura Vania remotely.
The illustrator lives in the Republic of Kenya, where she will use her share of the proceeds from the books to open libraries in Africa.
Wherever they are and whoever is reading, Asjes hopes that the stories on her pages will also encourage conversation between children and their parents about values and the importance of having good friends.
“I wanted to create a book that if the children are very young and the parents read for them, that they could talk about emotions and feelings,” he says.
The second book by this author goes on sale this month.