Children get the gift of reading ‘Thunder’s Vision’
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Drawing on her experience as an educator Dr. Kim LaPrade set out to stir the imaginations of young readers and teach families about Grand Canyon University.
LaPrade, dean of the College of Education, is the author of “Thunder’s Vision,” a 14-page children’s book that follows Thunder, a curious little Lope struggling to find his purpose. Readers are invited on a journey as Thunder goes above and beyond to discover his opportunities on campus.
Ultimately, with the help of a special guide, Thunder’s vision becomes clear. Through the adventures of Thunder, LaPrade communicates the often unique and unconventional path to purpose.
“The challenge is that Thunder likes everything — all people, places and things,” LaPrade said. “So the goal was to ease the pressure off of searching for your purpose, as we are all trying to do.”
She read the book while spreading the holiday cheer for a group of youngsters Tuesday during the all-employee Lopes Christmas Party.
LaPrade was thrilled with how engaged the group was, including 3-year-old Alex Mason. LaPrade welcomed the youngsters to sit around her for story time and began the conversation by asking, “Does anyone know what the word ‘vision’ means?”
“Basketball!” guessed Mason, and parents in the room giggled.
The idea for the book struck her nearly three years ago, while her college was working on “Teaching: A Calling of Passion and Purpose,” a book filled with anecdotes, stories and quotes by alumni, students, faculty and staff.
In her office, she slides over the picture-less, handwritten paper booklet draft with a chuckle before adding, “It was just in my heart. I wanted to have something that our younger audience could enjoy. Then I came back and I gave this to my team and said, ‘You don’t have to like it or love it, but I think it’s about GCU and our mission,’” she said.
The story was well-received. Adjunct professor Joanna Simpson, for example, read it while waiting for a meeting and wanted a copy for her two children.
“My children adored it,” Simpson said. “They loved learning about all of the different careers they could have if they one day attended GCU. ‘Thunder’s Vision’ teaches readers the value of taking risks and exploring your options.”
While this is LaPrade’s first experience writing something specifically for children, she is no stranger to storytelling.
“As a high school English teacher for 15 years, having students make these little paper booklets was one of my favorite activities — they were so fun,” she said.
She decided to name the book after “Thunder Vision,” a GCU campus-visitation program that allows elementary students the opportunity to experience the campus for a day.
“They meet Thunder and they get to talk about who wants to be a doctor, who wants to be a nurse, who wants to be a businessman and who wants to be a teacher — those are the individuals I thought of when I was writing this book,” she said.
After the reading, with the hands of a little helper, LaPrade gifted a few copies of her book, neatly decorated with a red ribbon and a candy cane.
“Thunder’s Vision” also includes a glossary and a parents/readers handout to help families study ideas and concepts in the book. Its pages are filled with vivid, cartoon-like illustrations by Jeremy Moore and Javier Poot.
As a teacher, LaPrade has seen firsthand how reading creates positive learners.
“Better readers make better writers,” she said. “Better writers make better communicators, and the earlier parents read to their children makes a difference when they reach kindergarten. So nothing warms a teacher’s heart more than seeing a parent or a sibling read a book to a child.”
LaPrade said she hopes that her book will encourage readers to keep being curious, and she plans on writing many more books. For the next one, she’d like to write about what it’s like to be a teacher in the hopes of cutting into the Arizona teacher shortage.
“Thunder’s Vision” is available on campus in the Lope Shop and also online.
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.