LIHUE — After raising four children over the past few decades, Bob Bartolo can tell you his share of stories about life lessons from their upbringing and the similar challenges each one faced.
“Each child has their own personality, but what’s interesting is that my children all have very similar personalities,” the 71-year-old Wailua resident said. “You just take it day by day with each new experience, to first boo-boo to being afraid of the dark. It has always been a very unique experience.”
Perhaps some of Bartolo’s most treasured moments with his children took place when he read with them before bed. It was a time when, he said, some of life’s important lessons were taught.
“As you grow up yourself, you just take things for granted in terms of what your reactions are and what you’ve learned,” Bartolo said. “As you begin to teach these things to children, you begin to express the things that you have learned and are now teaching. It’s a sort of self awakening because you begin to realize what you’ve learned over the years.”
It’s an experience that eventually inspired him to start writing a series of children’s books about a year ago called “Sabrina’s Growing Up Stories,” which stars his now 9-year-old daughter and is also inspired by his three other children — two daughters and a son.
The first book in that series, “Kitty Gets a Bell,” was released last month in electronic form on Amazon and Kindle and details, in 25 pages, how the main character, Sabrina, adopts a cat from an animal shelter and learns how to care for it and train it. To make it a true family affair, all of the illustrations were created by his oldest daughter, Marca Leigh, who lives in New York City.
“These are all little things that I’ve learned while working and living with my children and telling them stories and reading them books at night; the kind of books that they like to read — fun stories, learning stories — and that’s when I decided that I wanted to share some of my experiences,” Bartolo said.
Though he does not know how many electronic copies of the book have been sold so far, Bartolo said he would like to raise enough money to print the book and provide copies for animal shelters throughout the state and West Coast to sell for their benefit.
But, more importantly, Bartolo said he wants his book to bring children and their parents together.
“This is a special moment for a child and a parent — it’s a time when they sit together either before bed or any other time, but mostly before bed time,” Bartolo said. “They sort of bond when they read a story, and it’s best when the story has something important to say for the child to understand — something that they’ve experienced themselves or will understand in the future when it eventually comes before them.”
His electronic book, or eBook, can be purchased for $4.99 on the Amazon website.