West Milford author pens children's book on car safety

Book teaches children about safety and cars


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  • West Milford author Carolyn Ricciardi with students at the Anna L. Klein School in Guttenberg. She read her book "Let's Go for a Drive" to the dhildren. They are holding poster-sized pictures from the book, illustrating safety signs and tips. Photo provided




  • "Let's Go for a Drive" teaches children about cars and safety. Photo provided



By Ginny Privitar

We've all seen them ‑ drivers on their cell phones, weaving down the road in front of us. And not paying attention to their driving. Some of them even have children in the car.

The frequency of that experience and the hope of saving lives was the main reason West Milford author Carolyn Ricciardi wrote a children's book, "Let's Go for a Drive." With it she hopes to instill knowledge of safe driving habits that children, in turn, can remind their parents to observe them as well. She hopes to impart the message, in a fun and effective way, that safe driving is important.

Ricciardi said she's noticed over the past few years, more and more people swerving back and forth on the road. "I'm terrified for all the people on their cell phones ‑ all the time," she said.

Another reason for the book was her own mother's death in a car accident. She wasn't wearing a seat belt and Ricciardi wonders if the outcome would have been different if she had.

Ricciardi remembers her own dad explaining safety tips to her at a young age. She's started early with her own daughters, Sofia, 11, and Mia, 6, explaining things like recognizing and coming to a halt at stop signs, learning to put on your seat belt and not using a phone in a moving car.

It's not just adults who are glued to their cell phone screens. Ricciardi said, "It's very scary and because I have children and I don't want them to be so obsessive; to be looking at the phone all the time" that she's written this book to bring attention to just how dangerous it is.

Ricciardi has started reading the book to children in classrooms. She tries to make it as interactive and fun for them as possible, having them recognize different safety signs and mimicking fastening their seat belts. "If I reach just one child and have them remember to keep the phone down when they're driving, then I'll be happy," she said. And she notes, children will remind their parents or other adults when they see them doing something dangerous while driving.

She has a picture of a phone in the book and she tells the children it’s the most important picture in the book. Using the phone while driving makes people swerve. She tells children that if they see the person they’re driving with using a phone, to ask them to please put down the phone.

Ricciardi is hoping to reach more schoolchildren with her message about safe driving.

While writing "Let's Go for a Drive," she said she asked her daughter Sofia, an avid reader, to read it and let her know if she liked it. Ricciardi wanted to make sure the book was fun, and Sofia gave her stamp of approval to the project.

The author hopes parents will keep their phones down. "Even if it's only one or two children who tell parents to put the phone down," she said, "that’s good and will save lives. That's what it's all about."

Ricciardi's book "Let's Go for a Drive," perfect for Pre-K to first grade children, is a 34-page paperback with a retail price of $12. The ISBN is 978-1-4809-6967-4. It is published by RoseDog Books of Pittsburgh, Pa., and is available on their online bookstore at www.rosedogbookstore.com or from Amazon.com.

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