When she taught kindergarten, JoAnn Owens discovered that there were no books about Martin Luther King Jr. that were suitable for her students.

    So she decided to write one.


    When she taught kindergarten, JoAnn Owens discovered that there were no books about Martin Luther King Jr. that were suitable for her students.
    So she decided to write one.
    Owens recently published her first book, "I Have a Dream, Too!" The book, which was inspired by King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, takes a child's-eye look at Martin Luther King Jr. Day and how it inspires the heroine to make her dreams come true.
    At the end, the book challenges readers to set goals, then work on achieving them.
    Owens, who used to teach kindergarten at Central Elementary School, returned to her old school on Monday to share her book's message with students. Starting with an excerpt from the poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," she gradually moved into a discussion of goals and ways to achieve them.
    Owens told the students that King wanted all Americans, regardless of their race, to set aside their differences and work together on achieving their goals.
    "I need to grow up and get an education so that I can teach others, just like Martin Luther King Jr. did," she said, reading an excerpt from her book. "I will teach them the good things that we should be doing in our world."
    Owens said that even small goals — such as earning an "A" on a spelling test — require hard work and persistence to make them come true. She added that when people achieve one goal, they always have more to work on.
    "How do you become extraordinary?" she said. "You have to do extra. If you want that 'A' on that test, then you have to do extra. You have to study more. That's how you become an extraordinary person."
    Several students said afterwards that they had enjoyed Owens' presentation and the excerpts from her book.
    "I thought it was pretty interesting because Martin Luther King Jr.'s such a great guy," said fourth-grader Dylan Servis.
    Another fourth-grader, Margarita Herrera, said she liked Owens' message of reaching across racial lines and working with each other.
    "It doesn't matter what color you are," she said. "You can still be friends and not have to fight."

    Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.