2009-04-17 / School News

Reading is Fundamental

By Jessica Durham

"My Shadow Is a Copycat" is one of three children's books written by Olga Fyne. "My Shadow Is a Copycat" is one of three children's books written by Olga Fyne. Knowing how to read is fundamental for everyone, but no one thinks that it's more fundamental, especially for young children in elementary school, like Olga Fyne.

Born the seventh child in Jamaica West Indies, Fyne did not attend school until the second grade. After that, reading was a breeze for her. She admitted that she was bad in math, but being a good reader was the key to passing in her math class. After that, Fyne knew that she loved reading and writing and was going to make something out of it.

"Writing is a part of me." Fyne said.

The three books, "My Shadow is a Copycat", "Jerry and Sherry", and "Squirrel Race", were self-published in December, 2008. Fyne said that "My Shadow is a Copycat" is her favorite book. The story is based on her childhood and her silly thoughts about her fear of her own shadow. "Every time I tried to step on it, it would move," Fyne joked. She wrote the book because most children have a fascination with their shadows. Children believe that the shadows are people. They get scared because they think the shadow is a ghost, Fyne said.

Her other books are just fun rhymes for the readers. Fyne said that a parent is able to make an exercise for his or her child while reading the book. For example, in her book "Jerry and Sherry", one can make an exercise for a child by asking "How many words end with 'eery'?" According to Fyne, this type of exercise is one way of teaching a child how to read and also comprehend what they are reading. They will be able to realize that if they change the first letter in the word, they will create a new word. "A lot of kids don't understand that." Fyne said.

Comprehension is also important, according to Fyne. One example of this is the English Language Arts test that students take in grades 3 to 12 to meet the New York State education standards, according to the Department of Education website. Students need to comprehend and understand the passage that they hear in order to answer the questions that follow the passage. Students have to "read and comprehend" in order to succeed in school, Fyne said.

Fyne lived in Far Rockaway for five to six years and now lives close to Rockaway. She is a grade school teacher at P.S. 197. There, she is able to help children read and comprehend by using her rhyming method. She is aware of what makes the children think, she said. Even though writing is a hobby, apart from reading and singing, Fyne finds writing children's books rewarding. In her class, she finds that boys don't like to write, unlike the girls, Fyne said. It is amazing that she could inspire other children to read and write, especially the boys.

Fyne faced many challenges while writing her children's books. Most of her problems came from publishers, Fyne said. Most of the publishers didn't follow up on what they told her and just kept giving her the run around. It was very frustrating and still is frustrating, Fyne expressed. Also, there was constant communication going back and forth between her and the publishers. "It looks easy, but it's not," Fyne said. She had to make deadlines with the publishers along with marking student papers for school.

Fyne went to college at Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, where she completed three years of studies in Teacher Education. She came to the United States in 1987 and went to SUNY Empire State College to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. After that she received a master's degree in education at Brooklyn College and received permanent teacher certification. She became a United States citizen and furthered her education by becoming certified as a Literacy Leader at Teachers College and received her permanent state certification in School Administration at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Fyne is married with five children.

There are three more books on the way, Fyne said. "If you fall, don't get up" is a book about people who just mope around when something unfortunate happens to them. "You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks because:" is a book about people who don't except and welcome change and want to keep things the way they are. "Don't Count Your Chickens before They're Hatched because:" is a book full of funny jokes. "If you want your child to succeed, then inspiring them to teach them how to read is the way to go," Fyne said. "Reading is the key."

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