LeAnne Litka's new book series for children transitioning to phonemic awareness emerged from her personal journey as an artist and a teacher. They are not your typical ABC books, they are an experience with sound and the love of language.
“I had a son who didn’t learn to read with traditional methods,” Litka says. As I watched him struggle, I questioned, “How come this smart kid cannot read?” After a lifetime of walking alongside him with research, therapy, trial and error, he reads well, and he loves books!
Litka’s journey sparked a desire to help other students like her son. She used her experience to serve other dysfluent readers as a para in public school classrooms for over a decade. In her morning time before school, she decided to pursue her personal creative work. “I always kept journals and drew.” She began with a simple method: three artist pages a day based on Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way.
These two streams, creative art and literacy, developed into a feeling Litka described as an "urgency to write a book to make early learning easier" for students approaching reading. Her overarching question became “What could be done to help kids like mine fill in the gap?"
One day, on a long car ride, the words for “What's That Sound?” popped into my head and demanded attention. Finally, I had it. I had a resource, a simple picture book that could reach kids. By spending more time in scholarly research and combining her experience and time with young readers, she refined her technique to create books that could help teachers and parents guide children to overcome differing visual, auditory, or attention abilities to reach phonemic awareness and to then read.
Litka's book is a combination of the best research on reading combined with delicate hand-cut paper art, watercolor and beautifully patterned mono prints done in her studio. Her daughter, Kristen Kijowski, artist, designed a hand cut paper font for the book that is friendly to students with dyslexia.
Litka’s first book is being published by Flying Ketchup Press in 2019. "What's that Sound," is a journey that is only beginning with more books on the way. Litka has an invitational message to share with children, parents and teachers: that readers can have equal access to reading if we cherish imagination, learning, and the sound of language. She lives and works in the Kansas City area where she continues to do three artists pages a day and work with children in public schools.