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Keepsake that Educates!

Interview with Author, Dr Sylvia Hawkins Little, PH.D

Dr. Sylvia Hawkins Little penned Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a present for her granddaughter’s third birthday. She was inspired by her granddaughter’s love of books, motivated by her son’s foreign language expertise, and challenged to find relevant learning materials for gifts. Family, friends, and colleagues subsequently asked her to share her gift; Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français is her gift to you

Along with writing, editing, and co-authoring numerous consultative reports, educational manuals, guides, and handbooks, Dr. Little’s poetry was featured in the McDill Officer’s Wives Magazine. Her first children’s book, Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français, won an She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Austin/Central Texas Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Chapter, and the Writer’s League of Texas.

Dr. Little holds a Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters of Education from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Currently an independent education consultant, Dr. Little has been teacher, principal and school district assistant superintendent during her career; her work has concentrated in multi-ethnic school districts. She understands that today’s young people must speak multiple languages to succeed in today’s diverse, high-tech, information-oriented global society.

Interview with Sylvia Hawkins Little, PH.D. Author of Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and more English · Español · Français. A Tri-Lingual Book.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?

This question has two answers. I habitually read more than one book at the same time and usually finish them both about the same time. I just finished reading Keli Goff’s “The GQ Candidate” and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

My earliest memories of writing are from my high school days. I wrote a monthly column for aChicagomagazine on the “happenings— sports, academics, social events, who doing what, and etc.” atParkerHigh School.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

I wouldn’t say that I was encouraged or discouraged to write. My parent’s philosophy was that you could do anything you want if you just put your mind to it. Writing was just something that I decided to do and just did.

For example, when I noticed my high school wasn’t included in the Chicagomagazine that I mentioned earlier, I called, set up a meeting, met with the editor, and got the assignment. The same thing happened when I decided to write for Fair Force Times, MacDill Air Force Base’s Officers Wives Magazine. I called, offered my services, and agreed to write a poem each month. I created a new poem each month until my family left MacDill Air Force Base.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes. I’m editing several books. A children’s book that uses prose to delineates examples of Black’s ingenuity that make life wonderful for you and me.

It is said that history repeats itself, but we are only doomed to relive our past if we fail to learn from it. The past is not a map to where you are going, it’s a record of where you have been. Its purpose is not to drag you back through emotional muck, but to serve you best by reminding you of lessons learned so you can avoid them in the future.

~Kimberly and Tom Goodwin~

The second book uses humor to look at a critical need, more parental investment in their child’s education, for some areas of our country and suggest parents  [a] remember the self-fulfilling prophecy—a statement that alters actions and therefore comes true and [b] raise their children as if they were geniuses.

Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them. ~Joseph Joubert~

You were inspired to write Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a present for your granddaughter could you tell us a little about it?

Yes, I can. It was happenstance. My three realities converged. I have [1] a granddaughter who loves books, [2] a son who is fluent in three languages—English, Spanish and French, and [3] a burning desire to give appropriate entertaining instructional materials as gifts.

Before I realized it, the gift search had turned into a conceptual design for a book manuscript, just as quickly went through various stages, and finally was a bound book, Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai. After prodding by family friends and colleagues, it was revised and published as Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More   English ·  Español  ·   Français.

You also write poetry, would you be publishing a book of poetry soon?

I hope so.  As previously mentioned, I’m editing a poetry book about Black’s ingenuity that makes life wonderful for you and me and plan to turn a couple of those poems into Children’s e-books.

What was your favorite children’s book?

“The Black Emperor” It is about Toussaint L’Ouverture’s life [1743-1803]. He won international renown in the Haitian fight for independence. I can’t remember the author’s name.

L’Ouverture’s life story is impressive. It is a testament to the human spirit, ingenuity, and determination while providing an in-depth account of race relations during that time period.        

Briefly, he was born inHaiti, the son of an African slave, taught to read and write – fled to join the Spanish army in the Spanish half of theIslandofHispaniola. He returned, beat the colonial French, saw off the Spanish in their half, beat a British, American and French blockade and created the first black republic in the World. When he was betrayed and captured he was taken toFrance, imprisonment and death. It is said that French soldiers lined the route from the port to the prison saluting a man they recognized as a great general.           

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Editing – for me.  I have been accused of being wordy. So I edited to decrease words. I can never seem to let it go. There is always another read through, a few words to change, to add, or eliminate.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

Reading, family, technology, and volunteer work are my favorite pass time activities.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I received suggestions on edit needed to the 1st edition and was eternally grateful that they were made. When you write a book such as my trilingual alphabet books, I learned that word usage varies according to where you live. Hence, what one individual sees as an incorrect word another sees it as correct.

On writer’s block, I do something for pleasure, a project around the house, or volunteer activities. I get the best ideas when I am doing other things and don’t have a tonsil or paper in hand.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

As an author, I hope that readers of my children’s books enjoy them, want to read them over and over, and recommend them to others.

As an educator, I hope that readers of my children’s books learn something, feel inspired or challenge, and most of all, continue if they haven’t started on a never-ending journey in their quest for knowledge.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Suzanne Collins and Trenton Lee Stewart: My granddaughter has told me it’s time to write a real book.  I would ask her favorite authors what mechanism they use to ensure that their characters actions are consistent with the role they are given in the book.

Keli Goff: My questions for Kelli are on introducing characters into the story line. Her introduction methods make it easy for the reader to learn their background, idiosyncrasies, and relationships to the main character.

Neil Lozano: I would want to know about the reaction his grandkids had when they discovered he had written a book for them and would my tri-lingual alphabetic book sell to his audience.

Monica McKayhan: I would ask Monica what caveats that I should observed when writing teen romance novels.

Maurice Sendak: I have often wondered what he was concept or theme he had in mind when created his illustrations for Where The Wild Things Are.

What author inspires you the most and why?

Maya Angelou. Why? She is an author, poet, activist, and a philanthropist. I think of her as a national treasure. Numerous others also agree. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and wrote inauguration poems at their request for two presidents, Clinton in 1993 and Obama in 2009.  Specifically, she has used her time, talent, and treasure to improve the lives of others.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

I used to be very regimented. Last year, I decided not to schedule what, when, and how I would do things. I now know that I function best using a schedule.

I believe that goals give meaning to one’s purpose in life. Hence, I always have long and short-term goals.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

For this question, I’ll give my educator not author answer. The parents, hopefully, will have spent time reading to their children and have a sense of what subjects and type of books they like.  If they haven’t, I would suggest spending time with their children browsing the shelves of their public library—the best bargain in town, or a large bookstore to get an idea of their preferences. The first Saturday in December is “Take You Child To A Bookstore Day”.

If their children should select book(s) that they find inappropriate, then hold discussions that carefully lead their children to making other choices. Never, ever place a value judgment on their child or their child’s selection. Remember, as an adult you have had many years to develop your views and your child has lived only a few years and hasn’t had that luxury. It is time for the parent to reflect on what Juvenal once said, “A child is owed the greatest respect; if you have ever have something disgraceful in mind, don’t ignore your son’s tender years.”

Apart from the subject matter, I would suggest that parents select books that address at least four of the points below:

  • Create a desire to learn
  • Stimulate intellectual curiosity,
  • Celebrate diversity, 
  • Enhance strong character development,
  • Build upon prior knowledge,
  • Increase vocabulary,
  • Challenge ability,
  • Instill a quest for knowledge. 

What advice you would give to new writers?

There are five areas I would touch upon when talking with new writers.      

Learn as much as possible about the group that you intend to write for that includes their idiosyncrasies, preferences, tribulations and etc.

Research the subject or area that you intend to write about until you know it like the back of your hand. If you decide to construct a new world, then use technology to help you learn more about the possibilities and limitations of your new world. In short, do your research before you begin writing, it will save time in the long run.

Organizations & Support Groups for authors are available at local, state and national levels. I would suggest that you first join the Society For Children Book Writers And Illustrators at the national level. They will put you in touch with your local organization where you can learn about all of the support groups.

Publish Options include getting an agent, looking for a publisher or self-publishing. Note that within these options are numerous choices.   This is where research and technology should be used to the fullest

Marketing is one area that cannot be overlooked. You   might write an outstanding book, get outstanding reviews, and sell very few.   Need I say more about the value of marketing?

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Thank you for this interview.

December 12, 2011 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , , ,


  1. The books are a great learning too that I think my kids would really love!

    Comment by lisa | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  2. My husband live in Austion for 10 years.

    Comment by Jeryl M. | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. I enjoyed reading his advice to new authors. I think those things are useful in multiple fields.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

    Comment by domestic diva | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  4. I think its great that he put into words the things to look for when picking out books for your children. I think its things I already knew, but its great to have them there in front of you and make a conscious effort to make sure they meet at least four of the requirements. Thanks!

    Comment by Amy W. | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  5. These books are great tools for teaching a child different languages and educating them properly. They are great tools for the high demands educators place on children today.

    Name: Sarah Walker
    Twitter: @lover2387

    Comment by Sarah Walker | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  6. I really enjoyed reading your answers during the interview. I like this book and the value it would have to make my grandsons want to learn more and to learn another language in early years . Thanks for the interview.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | December 13, 2011 | Reply

  7. I think my kids would enjoy this, My son thinks that reading is the coolest and i try to help him out with that:) I think it is as well, thank you for work

    Comment by LorettaLynn | December 13, 2011 | Reply

  8. I am so impressed with the comment:
    “A child is owed the greatest respect…”

    As the author states, I believe that each child is unique and it’s wise to spend time with him or her, to know what is best for reading and learning for that individual child.

    Learning another language would be a wonderful key to communicating in a global world!

    Comment by Elsie | December 13, 2011 | Reply

  9. This is something children could really learn from and my grandchildren would love this.
    It teaches a lots of values of life. I believe your works are very good for for children. I am
    really impressed by all of this.

    Comment by Arlena Dean | December 16, 2011 | Reply

  10. I would love this for my daughter. I feel in this day and age, it is important for children to enjoy learning other languages at an early age. These books really seem to challenge and encourage children. What a wonderful book to have!

    Comment by Holly | December 20, 2011 | Reply

  11. I love her thoughts about parents needing to have a larger role in their child’s education. This was always my biggest obstacle as a teacher.

    Comment by Tanya Bainbridge | December 27, 2011 | Reply

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