To make reading and writing fun despite her learning disability, Kiara Smith of Kiwi Cares Collections began writing children’s books with the support of her mother, Katrina. The family donates all of the profits to charity.
How did Kiwi Cares Collections get started?
Katrina: Kiara was diagnosed with dyslexia in the fall of 2020. That made reading a little bit of a challenge. We read up on how dyslexia works. Even though it’s a disability in some aspects, there are also many abilities that it brings. For Kiara, it brings a lot of creativity. This year with distance learning and COVID-19, we’ve had conversations around life lessons and that sparked an interest in Kiara for wanting to help others. She wanted to open lemonade stands and bake cookies. I figured since she’s so creative, why doesn’t she start writing children’s books? She’s written four books so far.
Kiara: The first book’s lesson is about honesty, then the second one is about loving yourself, the third is on how you treat friends, and the latest one is the “I’m sorry” book.
Katrina: We self-publish all of the books on Amazon. All of the profits are being donated. We chose a nonprofit called Save the Children, where Kiara is sponsoring a girl in need.
Kiara: She is six and she has glasses like me! We want to give her as much money as we can.
Katrina: We are also working with Olive Crest, which helps youth who are at risk and we are donating 80 books to them. The idea of donating all of the profits came from Kiara.
What does your writing process look like?
Kiara: I just think about the lessons that I learned, then I come up with the characters. My favorite character is the fox. There are questions at the end of the book, a word search, and coloring pages.
Katrina, what’s it like to see your daughter write these books?
Katrina: It’s really cool. It’s been a lot of fun. I love that she has joy in it. I love that she has such a big compassionate heart to give back. With her having dyslexia, I didn’t want reading to be a stumbling block but I wanted her to find joy in it. It’s just her brain working differently. I didn’t want her to shy away from finding joy in books.
The books cover some common issues for kids. How do you navigate hard conversations with each other?
Katrina: The year 2020 brought on a lot of the conversations. I was fortunate to be able to work full time from home. We would go for walks around the neighborhood and talk about what it means to have a virus affecting the world. We even got a little into politics. I want my kids to know that they can go after any opportunity they want, while also being empathic and making sure that as high as we go, we’re bringing everyone else with us.
What is it like to hold a book that you wrote?
Kiara: It just makes me feel special. It makes me feel like now I can help other children and give them a book with activities. Mommy did a great job helping with the pictures.