Local Author Writes Book Series With Valuable Life Lessons For All
Writer / Lynda Hedberg Thies
Oftentimes in life, the result of our greatest struggle can often prove to be our greatest source of joy or even provide us with our life’s purpose. If we are being completely honest, not one of us wants to struggle, and we will go to great lengths to avoid it. But the truth is that we all struggle with something and the only way out is having the courage to face it head on in spite of our critics or our own critical thoughts.
For Keith Fechtman, his greatest struggle came in the form of dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most common reading disorder with up to three million cases per year. It is a genetic disorder characterized by difficulty in spelling, reading, memorizing and identifying words despite normal intelligence and above. For students lucky enough to have a diagnosis, there is no specific treatment but there is help with tutoring through educational approaches and techniques.
But Fechtman’s issue was misdiagnosed and at every turn, there were kids that laughed at him because he was different and teachers that told him “you’re not smart enough” and limited his exposure to programs and clubs that may have helped him. And even though this pattern continued throughout his educational career, it did not stop him — it made him all the more determined.
“I was determined to prove them wrong and I was lucky enough to have a tremendous support system at home,” Fechtman says.
The words of those teachers were disheartening and that is what allowed him to persevere. Never allowing limits to be placed on him, he decided to write a children’s book to help other children understand that even if you are different that no matter what challenges you face, you can overcome them. The book is about a little girl named Malina. After writing the book, he packed it away for seven years.
It was only recently that he learned that there was a name for his struggle. When he finally understood what he was dealing with, he realized he needed to get more people talking about it. His wife encouraged him to get the book out of storage and use it to make a difference with dyslexia. He contacted Eric Erickson, his brother in law, also from the Center Grove area, to provide the illustrations.
The collaboration resulted in Malina’s Zoo Adventure that was published in 2017 as a way to help kids with dyslexia as well as their parents. The book also helps those who don’t have dyslexia better understand what it’s like for those that live with dyslexia. The second book, Malina’s Farm Adventure is scheduled for release in July of 2018.
Fechtman has a desire to use his books “to show parents and children that no matter what challenges life throws at us, we can learn and grow with the help and support of others.” This is a case of life imitating art and is a message we can all learn and apply in our lives. Ironically, the main character, Malina was used because that is how dyslexics see the word animal.
In a further bit of irony, the book’s release coincides with the recent passing of Bill 216. This is a mandate that states that all schools in Indiana must have a resource teacher on staff who is specifically trained to help students with dyslexia by the year 2020.
Malina’s Zoo Adventures and the newest book in the series, Malina’s Farm Adventures are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A portion of the proceeds from the book helps to change the lives of dyslexic students by paying for them to go to camp.
For more information, visit malinasadventures.com.