By Jenna-Lee Neff
Rodo Sofranac is a writer on a mission to bring literacy to children across the globe, and he is tackling the challenge of literacy development by taking 100 percent of the profits from his own line of children’s books and using that money to produce and donate books to schools and nonprofit organizations.
“Any of the money that we make off the books, we want to cover some of the cost of printing,” he explains. “Then we wanted to use the extra money to create more books and donate them to agencies that work on literacy.”
Literacy became important to Sofranac at an early age. Born in Montenegro, Sofranac’s family left the country when he was young. First for Austria, and later for the United States where they planted roots in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sofranac and his sister attended school, but had some difficulty picking up English at first. Their father worked in a steel mill with other immigrants and their mother worked at a factory, where she was able to pick up some English.
“Immersion is a powerful tool, but at the same time it can have its hindrances,” Sofranac shares. As time went on, he and his sister were able to pick up English, but the language development process stuck with him into adulthood.
Sofranac’s journey took him through two degrees, the first in psychology with an emphasis in early childhood development and the second in education. It was during his time as a teacher that he began to dive further into literacy.
“I started writing stories for the kids and taking them to classes,” he says. “And the kids were really enjoying them.”
Each line of Sofranac’s books are written with a rhythm to help young readers identify what will happen next in the story. He shares that the level of comprehension it creates is a skill that children need not only for reading, but also to understand and navigate the changes in daily life.
“It starts to solidify that in the brain, so the kids really know what’s happening,” Sofranac says. “Reading begins when they can see the picture and associate the words you say with them. Reading is much more comprehensive than just taking the words off the paper.”
Sofranac married and had children of his own, and when grandchildren started to come into the family, one of his kids came to him and suggested that it was time he started considering publishing his books. He explored the options with his wife, but at the time they decided the process was too costly—that was until seven years ago, when they decided to look at the idea one more time.
During the past six years, Sofranac and his wife have donated books to more than 130 organizations worldwide. It is becoming a community affair for him as he often recruits people in his life to take his books to organizations or locations during their travels.
For more information on Sofranac and the books he writes, visit www.rodowrites.com. To keep up with the latest information and updates on his books and his mission, follow along on Facebook @rodowrites.