"Kodi's Adventures": Interview With Speech-Language Pathologist Mindy Hudon About Her New Book by Elisa Schmitz
I've been fortunate to work with Mindy Hudon, MS, CCC-SLP, for most of my entrepreneurial career. As a fellow mother of twins, Mindy and I connected when she became an expert adviser for my first business, iParenting, where she answered parents' questions about speech-language issues in children. I'm fortunate that Mindy has remained an expert contributor here at 30Seconds, where she provides tips on speech and language issues, health, and just everyday parenting stuff.
So you can imagine how excited I am to share Mindy's first book with you! Kodi’s Adventures: How I Learned to Defeat the Time Snatcher (illustrated by Barbara Szepesi Szucs, published by ASHA Press, January 6, 2023) is a graphic novel for kids ages 8 to 13.
Mindy is a practicing speech-language pathologist who has spent the majority of her career working with children and adults in clinical facilities, public schools and private practice. Mindy specializes in executive function development, specifically in the area of time management. She is the creator of the award-winning Bee a Time Keeper® clock, a tool to help young children learn how to see and feel the passage of time. Mindy is co-owner of Achieve Speech & Language Service and president of Building Awareness Rocks, a nonprofit corporation that is dedicated to improving the lives of children with exceptionalities.
I chatted with Mindy about her new book and her journey to become an author. Read the interview to learn more:
Elisa: I’m so excited for you, Mindy! Watching your creative journey evolve has been such a joy for me.
Mindy: Thank you so much for asking me to share my book baby with the 30Seconds community, Elisa! Can you believe that it has been almost 25 years since I first contacted you at iParenting? The internet was new to me and I, like you, was looking for parenting advice as a new mother of twins. I think we connected immediately being the mothers of multiples!
I'm not sure if you know this, but when you asked me to be your speech and language expert adviser for iParenting (and, of course, I enthusiastically said YES), my writing journey began! I never saw myself as a writer until I started writing for you, which led me to now being a published author. For that, my friend, I will be forever grateful.
Q: That makes me so happy! What an honor and a privilege to help spark this in you so you could become the fire. Tell us a bit of your path that led you to become an author, and what inspired you to write this book specifically?
As a speech-language pathologist (SLP) specializing in executive function skills, specifically time management, I wanted to write a book to help children understand how to see and feel the passage of time. In my practice, I realized that young children could not comply with adult requests around time, which caused havoc and frustration for both children and adults. I first developed a children’s clock, the Bee A Time Keeper® clock, to provide children with a tool to see and feel the passage of time. My clock led me to write a children’s picture book to support children to identify their time snatchers.
First, I joined Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic course, which was the smartest thing I could have done. I learned so much about writing children’s picture books, publishing, and connecting with other published and unpublished authors. The connections that I made through this process were priceless! During this course, I started writing my children’s picture book about time snatchers. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended a couple of conferences. Based on what I had learned, I decided to submit my children’s picture book manuscript to traditional publishers.
Although I received great feedback from the publishers, they all said it was not what they were looking for. I have to admit, that burst my bubble a bit. I was feeling defeated at that time so I placed the manuscript in a file and moved on. I continued to follow the authors that I had met in this process, who inspired me. I am so grateful to the authors that took the time to talk with me and encourage me to continue my publishing journey. They gave me great advice including submitting my manuscript to educational publishers, which I did, but again my manuscript was not the right fit. One thing I learned through SCBWI is that it can sometimes take a lot of “no’s” before you receive a “yes!”
One night, I was reading an email I received from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) about the first children’s book they published by one of their members. It ignited a spark in me as I remembered what you always said to me, Elisa: “Do what you know.” So, as an ASHA certified member, I attached my children’s book manuscript file and submitted it to ASHA Press.
A week later, ASHA Press contacted me stating that they loved the time management concept of my book, but would I be willing to write it into a graphic novel for middle-aged children. I was ecstatic and again I said YES, without even knowing how to write a graphic novel. But, this opportunity was what I was looking for, so I turned my efforts into reading and learning all I could about writing a graphic novel for middle schoolers.
Q: What an incredible path you took to get here! Tell us what the book is about.
It’s the first day of middle school, and Kodi is ready for a new start. Goodbye to missed buses, lost papers, and incomplete homework, and hello to being on time, getting good grades, and having time for video games! But Kodi’s plans don’t go as he imagined. Day after day, time keeps getting away from him, and he feels defeated. What can be snatching his time away from him? With the help of his friend, Juan, and Mrs. Norton, the school speech-language pathologist, Kodi is about to learn how to take time into his own hands.
Supplementary material includes easy, functional strategies to implement into daily sessions, both in the classroom and at home.
Q: So great! Why is it important that kids learn time management skills, and how does this book help them with that?
Time management is a much-needed life skill that is expected, but rarely taught. Through this story, I hope to present characters that children can relate to as well as help them improve their lives through simple strategies that feel achievable to them. The ability to manage our time is just one of the many executive function skills that our brain continues to develop until our mid to late twenties. One reason that some children have difficulty with time management is because they may not be able to “feel” the passage of time and self manage accordingly. If children can learn to “see and feel” the passage of time, then they can become better self managers.
In my book, the main character (Kodi) is time challenged, which is causing havoc both at home and school. Kodi learns about the Time Snatcher and knows that he is the cause of all of his troubles, so Kodi seeks help to defeat him. “Time snatchers” are anything that distracts you from completing a task, causing you to lose track of time. Some well-known “time snatchers” for children can include video games, television, toys and games, a person’s own thoughts, looking for lost possessions, and even spending time with friends. The goal of this book is to help children identify their personal “time snatchers,” then learn how to defeat them.
Q: How did your background as a mom and as an SLP factor into your book journey?
In both my personal and professional life, I have seen kids struggle to comply with their teachers’ and parents’ requests around time – whether it’s completing an assignment or project, getting out the door in the morning, or tending to any number of other daily tasks. I wrote this book to help children better understand that they can have control of their time. I believe that children can make effective use of their time by just making some simple changes.
As a struggling reader myself, comics were always the medium that I felt most comfortable reading. Comic books are a powerful medium to teach visual literacy with traditional narrative components. I am beyond grateful to ASHA Press for introducing me to the idea of writing a graphic novel.
Every day, I have the honor to work with individuals who challenge me to see beyond the boundaries of my training as a speech-language pathologist. It is through these experiences that I have grown personally and professionally, which ultimately has led me to write this book. Providing children (ages 8 to 13), parents, educators and clinicians with books that inspire them to conquer their challenges and grow through them is my primary goal as an author.
Q: Amazing! Where can we find the book?
The book uses executive function strategies in a graphic novel format as a tool to help children better understand how they can be successful in time management, a critical life skill. You can find the book at the ASHA Store or on Amazon.
Q: How can we keep up with all the exciting things you have going on?
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