Natalie Hale didn’t set out to launch her own publishing companyshe actually holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in vocal music. But she simply followed her heart and the flow of her life, and allowed them to dictate her path. Hale has spent the past eight years speaking to parents of learning-disabled children, sharing the knowledge she gained through research in teaching her own learning-disabled son to read. Part of that process involved making books with oversized flash cards. Seven years ago, Hale submitted dummies of one of the books to 13 publishers. She received 11 rejection letters saying, in effect, “great idea, but we’re not set up to do this.” She was telling this story in one of her presentations this past spring, when a parent shouted, “You publish it, we’ll buy it,” so that’s just what Hale decided to do. In setting up her own company, she says, she was unwittingly following the advice of spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda.
“Yogananda taught that everyone should do something no one else has ever done,” she says. “That’s a pretty tall order. But he very strongly believed in that and that each of us is capable of that. So you’ve got to be pretty original; very creative in your thinking. I wasn’t trying to do that with Special Reads for Special Needs, but the truth is that that’s what I’m doing because nobody else is doing these kinds of books. And these kids need it.” (Note: The first book in Hale’s multilevel series, Spaghetti, is currently available from her Web site: www.specialreads.com.)
Vera Curnow is the founder of the Colored Pencil Society of America. The author of eight books, she serves as an art juror and conducts workshops and lectures nationwide.