Nikki Rogers taught special education classes for years, working with toddlers to middle-schoolers who had a wide variety of disabilities.
During much of that time, she has also been writing books, most aimed at teaching children about the world, ideas spawned by her classroom observations.
Rogers, 44, retired from teaching in December. This month, she published her first book, “The Butterfly Dance,” which aimed at helping children deal with loss. It was inspired by her own mother’s sudden death due to complications of diabetes at the age of 60.
Rogers, an Apex mother of two teenagers and a fifth-grader, spoke with The Cary News about the book.
Q What made you decide to write this book?
If you’ve lost a parent, the other parent is obviously devastated as well. When I lost my mom seven years ago, I was just crushed, and I didn’t have much left for my children. Part of my healing was being able to share something like this with other parents, to provide something if they don’t have the words to talk with their children about it.
I’ve always felt this need to be able to connect with kids and make things easier for them, whether it’s because of a disability or the loss of a family member or bullying. Children need to understand how to deal with these issues when they come across them and they don’t have the skills to do that. They need an animal or something to teach them how to get through a difficult time.
Q What’s the book about?
This is a story about a mother and a daughter and they lose the father. I animated it, so they are adorable bunnies to make it easier for children to hear the story. You go through, and you see the difficult times the child is having being able to comprehend what’s going on. Through the journey in the book, she finds her father again. She finds peace when a little butterfly comes to visit her, and it reminds her of situations with her father. I still cry when I read it, but it’s a hopeful cry; it’s a story of hope and faith, and looking for the bright side of things through nature.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always loved literature and poetry and all kinds of writing. I began probably 15 or 20 years ago writing a curriculum for disability awareness based on short stories about woodland farm animals I created. “Ranger Bob” would teach the animals about different disabilities. I had created activity kits for each book, and it was difficult to find someone to market it or publish it with all of its components.
I’ve written so many types of books: short stories for children, funny ones, more about loss, all geared toward children. This book was published by a Christian-based publishing company that takes risks on new authors. I have so many stories that I want to share and that I want to be published, but you still wonder if it’s going to get any easier. I just finished one about bullying that I think is really special, and I hope to publish it next.
Where can you buy the book?
It’s on Amazon and you can buy it at my website, www.nikkirogers.tatauthor.com.
What are some of your favorite children’s books?
I love rhyming books and books with repetition. They are such wonderful tools for helping kids learn about words, and they are precursors to reading. So I always love the Dr. Seuss books. I think I have every single one of them.