Updated: Mar 27, 2020
"Living In Oakland Park guest author, Karlene Froling not only enlightens us with her positive view of how to teach diversity, she does so much more! In this article Brittany Hopwood delves into the works of Karlene Froling and how she received a special honor as a result." --Desiree Avila. All posts are reprinted with permission from Living In Oakland Park Magazine
CS 2020 MLK Monument Award Nominee...
Karlene J. Froling – Building a Better Tomorrow One Children’s Book at a Time
Author: Brittany Hopwood
Karlene Froling was born and raised in Newlands in Portmore, Jamaica. Her childhood experiences with being made to feel inferior because of her social and economic status has played a major role in forming her underlying vision as an author.She now strives to teach children about diversity and self worth with her five children’s books, including “The Mango Seed Doll,” “Uwi Unicorn,” and “I love Being me, Uniquely me.”
Toy From Childhood as An Inspiration
One of her main influencing experiences as a child was making toys from what little she had, which included dolls from mango seeds. This picture of creativity and pure imagination despite her disparaging circumstances is what inspired her first book “The Mango Seed Doll,” which is also published in Spanish and has an extended companion edition.
Karlene recalls how several years after moving to the United States in 2003 and starting her life here in Florida after meeting her husband, she had reached a point in her professional life where she felt stuck. She had maxed out her potential in one arena and felt the need to find something deeper to pursue. She and her coworker, Brittney Armstong, now one of her best friends and accountability partner in pursuing a fulfilling life, decided that a creative passion might be the answer.
So it was that Karlene came to writing. After reading Stephen King’s “Memoirs on Writing,” she found that she already had all that she needed to do what she felt inspired to do. She had a dream, she had the words, and she had the drive to pursue it. “Use the tools you have today, at the skill level you have today, to do what you can today,” she says, and this has been her work ethic and ultimately is what she strives to share with others and with the next generation.
Support and Passion Were the True Encouragement
She has faced roadblocks because of what people have thought about her skin color or her background. And it did limit her for a while, keeping her from even thinking she could be a writer without a college education. But she’s proof now that none of that matters.With a pure heart and desire to leave a legacy for the next generation to follow, she pursued her vision and has seen how community and kindness truly does make a difference. With help from Facebook groups, the friendships she’s developed, and the support of her husband and her sister, she has successfully navigated the unsure process of becoming a self published author.
Real Change Has to Start With You!
Karlene has developed her voice and her brand in a very short time, having only started in 2017, all because she has such a clear idea about what her message to the world needs to be: self love, self acceptance, positive thinking, diversity, and kindness. “I centered my books around these topics because it’s things that personally affected me growing up,” she says.
She is adamant that any real change has to start with you and how you feel about your own talents and abilities. Through the writing of her own books she’s grown, and hopes to help other mothers and adults grow as well. If you read one of her stories it can be strangely convicting as a parent reading a message about acceptance and diversity, or even handling tough emotions in a rational way, and finding that maybe you haven’t been the best example for your little one. It’s this kind of introspection and interaction with our young people that she feels will spark a change, even if it’s only one person at a time.
With each book tackling a different topic, such a bullying in “The Mango Seed Doll” and self love in “I Love Being Me, Uniquely Me,” she’s had a few special moments and chances to share her message because of each one. Karlene recounts the moment a young boy flipped through her book, “I Love Being Me, Uniquely Me” at the Winston Park Elementary Literacy Fair and exclaimed to his mother, “Mom, this boy looks like me!”
It was a priceless moment where Karlene’s intentions to have children see themselves represented with all their quirks and unique features as something to be celebrated became a reality. That has been a memorable moment for her and it just reflects the impact her work is capable of, which was clearly recognized by the Coral Springs MLK Award Committee who nominated her this past Christmas Eve for her voice concerning diversity in children’s literature. Her books have also been recognized by the Author Academy Awards and was listed as #2 in the Reader’s Choice Awards.
New Projects to Come
This year Karlene has many more things in store. She’s already drafted 10 new children’s books and plans to focus on spreading her message to an even greater audience in 2020 by publishing hardcover copies and getting into local bookstores. There is even talk of a Reading in Park Event that would give parents and children the opportunity to meet as a community for a night of storytelling and quality time. Her vision may have started as something just for kids, often inspired by her own daughters imagination and creative spark, but this has become Karlene’s podium in the arena of change for our world today.
You can find all of Karlene’s books including, a coloring book version of “I Love Being Me, Uniquely Me” on Amazon.