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Elementary school teacher raising money for new children’s books

CONWAY — For years, Conway Grammar School kindergarten teacher Jeremy Brunaccioni has been looking for the perfect book to teach young children how to read. He hasn’t found it.

So the 43-year-old Gill resident decided earlier this year to launch an online fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com to publish Finn Books: a series of nine beginning reader books he’s developed, named after his dog.

His goal of $9,000 would provide enough money to print about 1,000 copies of each book, register the books and advertise them on a website.

In three different roles — a teacher with almost 20 years experience, a longtime employee at World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield and a freelance blogger for the Scholastic publishing company — Brunaccioni said he’s seen his fair share of children’s literature.

In his mind, the ideal book features smart word choices (the number of words per sentence and the difficulty of particular words determine the level of the book). It includes a story that interests young children and makes them laugh. And it uses engaging images and graphic design to complement the text.

“There’s definitely room to take all of those things and make a really good beginning reader book,” said Brunaccioni. He’s seen some books excel in one or more areas, but none that have the full package.

He’s mulled the idea of creating his own books for a while, but decided to go for it this year, teaming up with his father and graphic designer Joseph Brunaccioni. The books range in topic from dinosaurs to trucks and feature cameo appearances from Finn, the author’s Wheaten terrier.

It took Brunaccioni (who uses the pen name Jeremy Chamberlain) a few months to write the books, a process he said was surprisingly difficult. He turned to his colleagues and the school’s reading specialist for guidance.

“I was talking about fruits and vegetables in one of (the books) and I’d put in the word ‘celery’ ... ‘I see celery,’” he said. “(That’s) a bad word choice, because the ‘c’ isn’t making a hard ‘c’ sound, so I had to switch that word.”

His father, a Greenfield resident, donated work by helping assemble the photographs that accompany the text.

Brunaccioni is now focused on raising money for the printing and marketing of the books. He plans to work with Massachusetts-based printing company Universal Wilde. Once the first batch of printing is complete and the website is set up, he’s confident in his ability to use his publishing contacts to market and sell the books.

On the Indiegogo.com fundraiser, which is scheduled to run through Jan. 15, he has so far raised about $300 out of the $9,000 goal. Still, Brunaccioni said he’s committed to the project, even if it means starting another part-time job to raise the money needed.

Indiegogo, unlike other fundraising websites like Kickstarter, will allow Brunaccioni to keep all the money he raises — regardless of whether he reaches his $9,000 goal. Any profits will be used to put money back into the project and create more books for children, he said.

Donors receive gifts based on the amount they give. Brunaccioni will respond to a $10 donation with “heartfelt thank you note from Finn and me.” He’ll answer a $1,000 gift by dedicating the book after that person, or a loved one of their choice.

The project’s Indiegogo page can be accessed at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/finn-books, or by searching for “Finn Books.”

Brunaccioni, using his pen name Jeremy Chamberlain, can also be reached at email: jjohnchamberlain@yahoo.com.

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