The story of a Simply Homeschool grandma and a lifelong dream
When Josie Brand was 15 years old, she wrote a novel. Her grandfather, brimming with pride, sent it off to a publishing house.
When the novel didn't go to print, the young girl set the manuscript aside and went on with her life.
Sixty years later, however, Josie's lifelong dream to become a published author came true when a box of her very own Early Bible Readers was delivered to her front door.
"It was very exciting, getting books published after all these years," she said, clasping her hands in joy.
"I am 75 and finally I have published books!"
Josie wrote the set of five phonics readers - Kids and Mums, Dan the Blind Man, Matt the Tax Man, Peter the Fisherman and Tim's Bad Leg - as part of her ongoing mission to teach children to read.
"Our son had problems learning to read and he had a teacher who helped him through phonics, rather than a graded learning to read program," she explained.
"I thought there must be other kids who would benefit from that."
Josie, who is the mother of Simply Homeschool founder Karen Willson, became increasingly interested in phonics while working in special education.
"I was working with a church group helping childen who have trouble reading," she said.
"You'd see kids turning off when they were opposed to reading. I would use fun stories like Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss. It was so easy and fun for them."
Josie decided it would be wonderful to write Bible stories for young children.
The books are designed for students who can sound out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and are beginning to read sentences. Each book also includes the full Bible passage, illustrations to colour, comprehension questions and points for discussion.
"The fact they can read the story themselves makes it real to them - the Bible is in the language adults read," she said.
"It's good because it connect Christianity with learning. Even when you simplify Bible stories, the message is still there. When the children read about Tim and his bad leg, that is important to them. They can see Jesus cares. It makes it relevant to their understanding and age, and I think that is very important."
Karen said her mum had originally joined the Simply Homeschool team to create the phonics program that would become the basis for Creative Phonics cores.
"She developed this reading program for kids who didn't 'fit it' to the school system, and when school readers didn't work, she turned to Dr Seuss," she said.
"It is super important because it is not just that the words become accessible, but that the world becomes accessible."
"It is very rewarding to see kids learn to read," Josie agreed.
"Some, you give them a book and they learn to read. But the variety in reading and spelling in English is enormous, so I want to find ways to make it simple for the kids who don't catch straight on."
The Early Bible Readers can be found in Just Good Books and are stocked through the Simply Homeschool Resource Shop, with the first print run selling out in record time.
And as for Josie's teenage novel?
"I think I'll stick with Bible stories now," she smiled softly,
"I have plenty more to come."