Children learn how to stay safe by being aware of their surroundings through the games in John Rogers’ book, Where Am I?
“I had in the back of my mind the children who had been abducted and murdered, the Shoeshine Boy, Emanuel Jaques, in Toronto when I was six, Adam Walsh and Michael Dunahee and too many others over the years,” said Rogers, a local realtor and father of five. “For me, and others in my age group then, it was the end of innocence for Toronto. We couldn’t really understand but we knew something was changed. For years, I knew I wanted to do something, but I couldn’t think of what.”
He noticed how much his own children could learn when they were young, one daughter was in Mandarin lessons when she was four. Others liked the games he played, having them identify locations and landmarks so they would know where they were if they were separated from their parents.
“I also always had them carry their name, address and phone number in a laminated pouch with them. I think people underestimate kids and what they can learn and remember,” he said.
Where Am I? is set up as a game where a father and son drive around their town and make sure they always know where they are and how to ask for help. This can also be done walking.
The map at the front of the book can be used for more games. For example, the parent might ask, “What is at the corner of Pine Street and Oak Street?” or “Where is the school?” They could then make maps of their own communities and find the places they need to know.
“I wish I hadn’t had to write a book like this. I hope the families of missing children will realize what an impact it had on everyone else and that they are remembered. And, of course, we all hope that there will be no more missing children,” said Rogers.
The book took five years and 22 re-writes, but he’s glad he stayed with it.
“The response has been excellent. As far as I know, there has never been a book written on this subject in North America so that was even more of a reason to write it. I hope that parents will discuss the topic of being aware of surrounding with their children.”
With illustrations by Joshua Allen, Where Am I? is distributed by Sandhill Marketing and is available at local bookstores.