SJC Long Island’s Karen Megay Nespoli, Ed.D., associate professor and director of the literacy and cognition master’s program, is set to have her first children’s picture book published on Sept. 8.
Dr. Nespoli also signed a contract to write eight more children’s books for the leading publishing company Little Hippo Books.
“My nickname growing up was ‘storyteller’ because I always had a story for everything,” Dr. Nespoli said. “It wasn’t until I began to write my stories down that I began to understand the power of my writing. Writing children’s stories has been a passion of mine for many years. To see my picture book come to life has been a wonderful experience.”
“Gertie Saves the Day” follows a groundhog named Gertie who wants to win the Groundhog Day competition, despite being told she’s too short to do so. It has several childhood themes, Dr. Nespoli explained, but the overall theme that stands out is that we are better together.
“I have always loved Groundhog Day,” said Dr. Nespoli, who taught 3rd and 4th grade before teaching at St Joseph’s College. “I loved celebrating it with my elementary students. We would make predictions the day before and then wait to see if their predictions match Punxsutawney Phil the next day. I began to think about what a day in the life of a groundhog might be like before Groundhog Day, and so ‘Gertie Saves the Day’ was written.”
As far as her inspiration, Dr. Nespoli credits children and the work she does through the literacy graduate program’s partnership with the Patchogue/Medford School District.
“On Saturday mornings in the spring semester, we offer free literacy tutoring,” Dr. Nespoli said. “One of the assignments is for each child to write and illustrate a nonfiction book. On the very last day of tutoring, the children read their books to their classmates and parents. It is beautiful and inspirational to watch each child read their books with confidence and pride.
“Writing is an important skill for all children,” she continued. “I hope that I will inspire children to write their own stories. Everyone’s story is important and should be shared.”