Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! We recently had the chance to speak with Tammy Fortune, author of the MCA Award-Winning book, Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! is a story about a child named Danny his best friend & dog, Dusty, and their humorous adventures as they learn to train their brains, understand dyslexia and tackle their learning challenges. Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! is a lovely story that is a perfect read not only for children who struggle with learning difficulties but also for all children to help them understand that some people learn differently than others. We hope you enjoy reading some of our conversation with Tammy below, we ask her about her background and how Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! came to be!
MCA: Hi Tammy, thank you for joining us today! Children’s books that showcase characters who have learning differences are so important for a myriad of reasons. For children who are challenged with learning differences, seeing a person like themselves can be so affirming. Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! is a must-read for any parent, caretaker, or teacher looking for a helpful tool in explaining how children all learn differently. I’d first like to start the interview by having you tell us about yourself!
Tammy: I’m an elementary education tutor who loves helping kids learn to read. I have worked with students in pre-school through 8th grade for over 20 years, helping them find how they learn best.
I have a degree in early childhood education and completed a specialized training internship to help students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. I am also a wife and mom to adult children who have struggled with dyslexia, autism, intellectual disabilities, and emotional issues. That’s why helping others overcome learning challenges is so important to me.
I live in Virginia with my husband of 30 years, our son, a daughter, and Dusty the dog. I love reading, all types of crafting, and teaching Dusty new tricks. I also spend my time creating fun educational resources to help teachers reach struggling students.
MCA: You truly get a sense of your educational background when reading Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! How did your background in education lead you to your writing career?
Tammy: I have loved children’s literature and dreamed of writing and publishing my very own book since I was a child. I wrote my first story in the sixth grade about an alien who came to school! As a child, I spent my days at the library and hoped to see a book that I wrote on a library shelf one day.
After teaching and tutoring for over 20 years, I decided it was time to make my dream come true and publish a book that could make a difference in the lives of children who struggle like so many of my students do.
MCA: What was your inspiration for writing Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia!?
Tammy: I watched my students struggling with a skill they saw their peers mastering. The emotional toll was heartbreaking. These brilliant kids felt like they couldn’t do anything. Many just gave up. One young boy looked at me and said, “I’ feel so stupid.” No child should feel that way.
When we rescued our dog Dusty, I realized what emotional support animals are, especially to children. I created the character based on my real four-legged friend to help inspire young learners to be their best.
Helping struggling learners to believe in themselves drives my stories.
MCA: Rescue dogs truly are truly amazing, and so is your purpose in writing your stories! What are some of the key lessons found in Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia!?
Tammy: Dusty and Danny struggle with learning. We all struggle with different things in life. I hope readers will come away knowing that it will get easier if they work hard and never give up. This is a lesson, not just for those with dyslexia but for everyone.
MCA: Can you give us more insight as to how this book and its different activities help spread Dyslexia Awareness and a “growth mindset”?
Tammy: This book aims to reduce the stigma associated with learning differences that partly stem from a lack of understanding. Many kids are made fun of and bullied for making mistakes or told they are lazy. In the book, kids see some ways dyslexia affects Danny and how it makes him feel. I created discussion questions, a teacher’s guide, and activities that I hope will encourage both adults and children to have open discussions about how to help those who learn differently.
MCA: Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! has seen amazing reviews across sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. Can you tell us about what some of those responses from readers have looked like?
Tammy: The response to Did You Say Pasghetti? has been overwhelming. I have had many parents and teachers reach out to say “Thanks” for writing a book that dyslexic kids can relate to. One parent said, “This is a wonderful story not only for children who struggle with learning difficulties but also for all children to realize that some people learn differently than others.”
In addition to being a recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA), I have been so honored to receive 4 Purple Dragon Fly Book Awards, including 1st place in school issues, 2nd place in special needs/disability awareness, and honorable mentions for picture book ages 6 and up, and 1st-time author. Three Story Monsters Awards/Seals of Approval for school life, health and wellness, and first-time author. The book was also an Independent Author Network Book Award Finalist.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Tammy: Differences don’t have to be seen as weaknesses. Dusty and Danny encourage everyone to work hard, be understanding, and never give up!
MCA: They certainly do not. Thank you for leaving us with such a beautiful message. Please keep us posted on what’s next for the adventures of Dusty and Danny!
You can learn more about Tammy Fortune and her award-winning book, Did You Say Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia! by visiting her MCA Shop pages.