Hope Unseen: Scotty Smiley

April 5, 2012

Scott Smiley
Recently, my friend Scotty came to town to visit. It's been several years since I've seen Scotty--he's one of my brother's best friends from college. They both attended West Point and both later served in Iraq during the war.

I still remember the phone call from my brother telling me that Scotty had been injured by a suicide bomber. It had just occurred and they didn't know the extent of his injuries at that point--but they did know one thing--it was really bad. He was just calling me to tell me to pray.

A man drove a car bomb right up to Scotty and it detonated. Shrapnel flew into his face causing serious injuries that resulted in blindness.

His story is nothing short of incredible. And he's written a book about his journey Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer.

Scotty and his beautiful wife Tiffany have overcome so many obstacles, but through it all, they remain positive and optimistic. They now have two adorable little boys and Scotty continues to serve his country  as a military officer.

The last time I had seen Scotty was before the war--when he could see. I had kept up with him and Tiffany through my brother and on the phone a few times, but this was our first time really talking in years.

I asked him about his kids and of course, the topic turned to their favorite books.

I was curious how reading time with his kids worked with him being unable to see the words on the page--did he have a collection of braille picture books?

He said he had a few, but mostly, he sits with his kids and opens up the books and asks them which book it is. If he has it memorized (like a Seuss classic such as One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or
Green Eggs and Ham) then he just recites it from memory.

He particularly enjoys reading from  the children's bible, because he asks his son to tell him what he sees and then he can recall the story and tell it in his own words.

If it is a picture book he does not have memorized, he asks his son to describe what he sees on the pages. Then he makes up a story to go with it!

He said it is very interactive--with his children helping him see what is on the page and with him recalling a story or making one up for them. There is also a lot of rhyming and singing together--just whatever comes to him at the moment!

I love how dynamic this experience is! Both parent and child have an active and vital role to play in the story time process. It reminded me that I need to involve my kids more by asking questions and encouraging dialogue in our own reading times together.

What does the storytime experience look like at your house?

PS. If you are looking for a good book to read for yourself, check out Hope Unseen

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