It is How You Tell It

June 24, 2022

1199 member writes child-friendly stories to help kids overcome their fears.

TellIt_fa.jpgDoreen Barnett believes that most childhood fears can be overcome if parents simply devote a little bit of time to providing age-appropriate explanations.

And for those parents who might be at a loss for words, Barnett has written a series of children’s books based on conversations she had with her own son, Curtis, when he was young.

Parents looking for bedtime stories with a message can choose from six Barnett books, all with her son’s name in the title: Curtis Daycare, Curtis Goes to the Doctor’s Office, Curtis Goes to the Market, Curtis and Friends are Getting Fit, Curtis is a Big Brother Now, and Curtis Getting New Glasses.

By day, Barnett works at New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Audubon clinic as a Certified Medical Assistant, taking a patient’s vitals, drawing blood, measuring newborn babies, and performing pregnancy tests.

But in her spare time, Barnett has been carrying on the storytelling tradition her parents brought from their native Jamaica. “My parents would talk to me and my four brothers until they were blue in the face,” says Barnett, who grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

She adds, “Too many parents think their children will do something just because they tell them to do it. But then, the children will still have this fear. I didn’t have it, and I did not want it for my son.” Her books, she said, came out of the way she raised Curtis, who is now 28 and works as a chef when he is not chief operating officer at the publishing company she created, Barnett Books.

“Even when he was a child, I would talk to him and try to explain things to him like he was an adult,” she said. Barnett said too many parents don’t prepare their children for new situations and experiences like the first time in daycare; instead they just “throw them to the wolves” without preparation. Her books are written in simple, colorful and entertaining language “so kids can understand the words and read them back to their parents or to themselves,” Barnett said.

Words that might be difficult for the target audience of pre-school and elementary school readers to understand are “broken down and defined so the kids can see what they mean,” she said.

Barnett adds that 1199 played a big role in getting her writing career off the ground. She received two $5000 personal loans from the 1199SEIU Credit Union, since repaid in full, which allowed her to self-publish her books.

“This union is the best,” Barnett said. “When they are not taking care of me health and job wise, it is helping me achieve my dream. A lot of people don’t get that chance.” “But 1199 did that for me.”

1199 Magazine: May / June 2022