Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Because of A Book with O. Raye Adkins

This week's Because of A Book features the author of Letters to My Father: The Gifts, O. Raye Adkins.  Many thanks to her publicist, Michelle Tennent for seeing my post request and sending authors my way!

Participating in the education of children has been a lifelong dream for Dr. O. Raye Adkins. With the establishment of OraMite, O Raphael — a nonprofit inspired by her quest to know the legacy of her father — and Help the Bear Program, her dream is being realized.

For more than 35 years Adkins has participated in the education of children of poverty. Thirty-two of the years were spent in public education, working at all levels — elementary, middle, high school, central office administration, and as an elementary school principal. She also worked at the college level as an adjunct professor. Presently, she contracts as a consultant, presenting workshops to teachers working with children in poverty. She holds a master's degree and a doctorate in Educational Leadership. As the founder of O Raphael, Inc., Raye brings both her personal and professional experience to provide a golden touch to improve the lives of others.

You can find O. Raye at letters2myfather.

Because of a Book
By O. Raye Adkins, author of Letters To My Father: The Gifts

I do not remember the first time I read Dick and Jane, I just remember reading it at home and at school. There were not a lot of books around our house and the ones I read came from the school. Dick and Jane was one I read without mistakes and with expression. My grandmother required both, so I got to know the two characters very well.

I suspect it was from this book that I first realized how different my life was from everyone I knew and certainly from the characters of Dick and Jane.  The only thing I had in common with the two was that they had a dog named “Spot” and I had a dog as well. They appeared to have the perfect life and I was little black girl living on a farm with her grandparents. My mother lived in another town and my father had never existed since my birth. He died in a stateside naval explosion and I was the single piece of evidence of his existence. Unlike anyone I knew in life or in the books I read, I had been born without a father.

The WWII naval explosion happened when my mother was five months pregnant with me and it erased a crucial portion of my identity. It was a painful experience for both my mother and me and I grew into adulthood struggling to camouflage the pain of having that piece missing from my life. It was unsettling to know that my father left the world not knowing that I had made it safely and without knowing that I was his little girl. I longed to tell him about his little girl.

Letter writing is a medium I have always enjoyed so I decided to use it for communication to my father. In the book, Letters To My Father: The Gifts, I have my Dick and Jane moments. I received a gift from him,
attended a parade in his honor, gave him flowers and I told him many times that I love him. The letters provided me an opportunity to join the past with the present, replace my grief with gratitude and give my father a special place in my life. Now the pain has been replaced with wonderful memories.

About Dick and Jane - Parents will love revisiting a fond part of their childhoods when they share these classic Dick and Jane readers with their children. With charmingly innocent exploits and simple, repetitive declarations, these beloved characters helped entire generations work, play, look, see—and learn! And now they’re available for a whole new generation to enjoy.
"Look, Jane," said Dick. "Here is something funny. Can you guess what it is?"

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About Letters to My Father: The Gifts - In this poignant journey, a fatherless daughter traces the path from her early years of longing for her father, to adulthood where she came to recognize that life's greatest joys often walk hand-in-hand with difficult and challenging experiences.

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