Local author finds success with books on speech
In May of last year, an Indiana resident published her first book. Now, she’s got three on the market, and has others in the works.
Elizabeth Redhead Kriston released the first book in her “Word Menders” series in hopes that it would become a learning tool for children with speech impediments. Each book in the series deals with different aspects of speech that children tend to struggle with.
Kriston works as a home-based therapist, doing mainly play therapy with young children. She has always incorporated literacy into therapy with children, more specifically, books that use rhyme and repetition.
The first book in the series, “Pants on Ants,” focuses on initial consonant deletion. Oftentimes, she said, when children are learning to speak they change the way they sound until they’re able to say words the correct way, sometimes by leaving off the initial consonant of the word.
She explained in an interview with the Gazette last year that sometimes a child will say a word like “ants,” when they actually mean to say “pants.”
The book, and the others in the series, aims to contrast what a child means to say versus what they actually said, through flashcards and exciting stories.
“Go by Goat,” the second book in the series, focuses on final consonant deletion — the same concept, except that a child deletes the end of the word rather than the consonant in the beginning.
The book is an adventure story, she said, where a little elephant invites her friends to a special day — her adoption day. Adoption is a recurring theme in Kriston’s stories, because her own children are adopted.
“The final consonant deletion that ‘Go by Goat’ targets is one of the most common things that children tend to do,” Kriston said.
The book was challenging to write, she said. When a consonant is taken off of a word, there are not many options with which to write a story.
“It evolved over many years of writing and rewriting.”
The third book in the series, just recently printed, is “The Bark Park,” which Kriston said is probably her favorite story she has written. The book works with beginning sounds, and can be helpful to any child, not just those with speech problems.
The story is about a little girl who has a lot of different pets that she wants to take to The Bark Park, but, because none of them are dogs, the grumpy gatekeeper sends the animals away.
The book works with voicing contrast, she said. For example, because the sounds for “b” and “p” are formed in the exact same place in the mouth, it takes a little bit of voicing contrast to differentiate the two.
When Kriston writes stories, the words are always chosen first — words that usually rhyme and deal with different speech issues. The story is then written around the words.
“I write down the words and look at them and think, ‘OK, I’ve got bark and park.’” They fit a certain profile, and she works out the rest of the story with the other words.
She hopes that the books will become a learning tool for parents and teachers alike, regardless of whether the children have speech defects.
“My intent is that, even for the kids who are going to figure out (speech) on their own … if they can have a little extra help from the beginning they’ll move through that phasing more quickly. Then, these books can be used in a more helpful way by the ones that don’t catch on right away.”
Kriston and the publisher of the book, Dynamic Resources, will now begin educating other professionals through conferences and sessions and be able to tell them that these therapy tools are now readily available.
“I’m thinking that by next fall we’re really going to have a lot more professionals with them in their hands and using them.”
She said that she has received a lot of good feedback from the stories, from parents and kids as well.
Last year, at least 500 copies of “Pants on Ants” were sold. The books are available online, like readwme.com, dynamic-resources.org, amazon.com and her Facebook page, facebook.com/ElizabethRedheadKriston. The books were manufactured by Gazette Printers, the commercial printing division of Indiana Printing and Publishing, which owns The Indiana Gazette.
The books will also be available at the Johnstown Book Festival, held from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 5 and noon to 4 p.m. on April 6 as well as at a Meet the Authors event at Windgate Vineyards in Smicksburg on May 3.
Kriston is also working on “Raincoats and Rainbows,” part of a Dynamic Resources series to be published in the summer. She’s also publishing her grandmother’s memoir through Star Publish LLC out of Loretto — a biography, photo album and cookbook all in one.