Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Birth of No Talking Dogs Press



South Seattle College is an urban community college with a large English as a Second Language program. It's my work home where I've taught  immigrants and refugees for almost thirty years.
Unlike my former students in Venezuela and Mexico, these students are living in an English-speaking country. As a result, their speaking skills develop while their reading and writing skills tend to lag.

As a language teacher, I am unwilling to contribute to functional illiteracy in America. I focus on reading and writing instruction, but I’ve never been a big fan of the ESL reading textbooks full of exercises. Worse yet are the abridged classics. Can you imagine falling in love with a 48-page Moby Dick? Cliff Notes are more interesting than many books designed for new readers. 
 
Years ago I started using Young Adult novels to enhance language instruction. I hoped to also foster a love of reading. I created my own activities for a number of books from Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan to Petey by Ben Mikaelsen. Newbury award winners with adult characters and themes worked well in advanced and even in intermediate ESL classes. I had plenty of great books to choose from until I started teaching lower level classes. 
 
One day I whined to my friend and writing partner, Pamela Hobart Carter, about the challenge of finding high quality books at about a second-grade reading level. (Most are picture books.)

“I’ll write one for you,” Pam said.

I decided I could do the same. We completed a dozen short books over a two-year period. I used photocopies of the manuscripts in my classes, and my students enjoyed them. They wanted their own copies to take home.

That’s when Pam and I decided to publish. Keeping the books as inexpensive as possible and free of instructional activities were musts. We decided the best way to get what we wanted was to self-publish. No Talking Dogs Press was born.
We will launch our work at the Spokane ESL Regional Conference in late February. Our first two titles, James and Barry Study Black History and The Old House on South Sixteenth Street, are available on Amazon.

We invite you to follow our website for updates as we release more titles. We hope you will share our work with new readers and the folks who work with them.

3 comments:

maryrowen.com said...

Congratulations, Arleen! I love the idea and the name of the press too. Very best of luck!

Jan said...

I like the name too! Best wishes!

arleen said...

Thank you, Mary Rowen and Jan. We appreciate your support!