Local author aims to connect children to prayer
HOMETOWN: Cherry Hill
FAMILY: Mari Eric; children Ilana, Emily, Isaac and David
SYNAGOGUES: South Jersey Torah Links and Margate Young Israel
PREFERRED PLACE TO TRAVEL: Jerusalem
FAVORITE BOOK: “Snow in August” by Pete Hamill
With over 20 years of experience as a special education teacher, Lori Samlin Miller understands the nuances of children with unconventional abilities. âSome students learn from what they see,â she said. âOthers learn from what they hear. I have always been fascinated by this process.
Miller began his career as a volunteer, reading to blind children and then to students with cerebral palsy. Growing up, she was inspired by her mother’s tireless selflessness. She always seemed to be forming a volunteer committee with her signature pad in hand. Miller added that his mother had already sold enough S&H green stamps to raise money for a carnival for children with special needs.
The Cherry Hill resident taught at Maple Shade Public School and later at Foundling Hospital School in New York City, while her husband completed his residency in surgery. One of his favorite aspects of teaching is taking students to the public library, to sow the seeds of literature from an early age.
âIt’s hard to take a reader below grade level and give them that pleasure of reading without tripping over words,â she said. “But I saw that the kids loved stories.”
Engaging with atypical students for such a long time deepened Miller’s personal writing and in turn, she decided to return to Rowan University in 2007 to earn her MA in the Graduate School of Journalism and Creative Writing. . While working freelance for several publications, she wanted to write a children’s picture book that could be both engaging and educational. So in 2016 Miller released “Stay Where I Can See You.” It is the story of a family of turtles struggling to stay together in the middle of a sea riddled with dangers. An avid turtle enthusiast, Miller based his story on diamondback turtles that live along the east coast.
âThey have very little chance of survival because the seagulls eat them,â she said. “Until they are three years old the seagulls melt and take them.”
For part of his research, Miller witnessed turtle rehabilitation at Margate, then followed a marine biologist at Drexel University. She said there is a strong message of kindness in the book that readers are clinging to. âIt’s important that children feel like there is someone smaller than them,â she said. Prior to its publication, Miller gathered editorial commentary from an amalgam of psychologists, educators, librarians, and pediatricians and tested the story in schools. âI really take my time. I don’t pull out a book until it’s proven that it has a story worth telling.
During Covid, Miller landed on his latest project, âNo prayer is ever wasted,â which was released last October. Verified by psychologists and seasoned teachers to match its 8-12 readership, the book spans 84 pages. It focuses on a Jewish girl living in Queens, New York, who is struggling to get a feel for the pandemic.
âAnyone can have a relationship with God, regardless of religion,â Miller said. “This isn’t a why or how to pray book, it’s just an example of how people connect through prayer.” She added that she wasn’t trying to water down the character’s apprehensions, but rather aimed to embrace them honestly. “This is a book about family and faith, and how it serves us.”
In his spare time, Miller enjoys reading and cooking for his family and friends. She created the blog “The Kosher Vegan”.
Before Covid struck, she volunteered at Cooper University Hospital as a Certified Bumper “T” Nursing Hospital Clown. Known to pediatric patients as the DR Dolphin, Miller wore lipstick, fancy glasses, and a little flower on his nose to break the seriousness with some distraction and levity. “It’s so powerful, the power of laughter, no matter how temporary it is.”
For more information on how you can organize author tours or writing workshops for your school or organization, please contact Miller at [email protected] For more information on Literacy, The Medical Clown, and Her Blog’s Vegan Recipes, visit www.lorisamlinmiller.com/
To purchase copies of his books, visit www.lorisamlinmiller.com/buy-books-now