Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I hoped to be an author. As a child, I often dreamed that my books might be in libraries one day.’

Melissa Marshall, North Massapequa

“Writing was always easier than speaking for me, especially in my early years. I was a late talker, which many people find hard to believe because I am very verbal now!

“I grew up in the ’70s, and my local library was one of my favorite places to go. Books took me to many magical places. I hoped to be an author. As a child, I often dreamed that my books might be in libraries one day.

“In May 2015, my life took an unexpected turn: While running errands with my husband, I had said that I wished I would be able to find a job where I could help children. I needed a sign to point me in the right direction. Well, we were in traffic behind a We Transport school bus. This bus had a sign on it that said they were hiring. I laughed because it was a real sign. I contacted the bus company and … I was hired as a monitor. I found that bringing and reading library books onto the school bus would help ease the transition for the young children who are often anxious and nervous. I often drew pictures to make our young bus riders happy as well.

It’s wonderful sharing the love of books with others.

“A few years ago, our bus always passed pigeons each day on our route. The children were enamored with them. Before long, I had created a story, and this bird family became a book, ‘Sharing is Caring with the Pigeon Family,’ followed by ‘Thank You Pigeon Family.’

“I also wrote ‘It All Started With a Box of Crayons,’ which shows that you can find ways to do things that make you happy, and that you should always believe in yourself. I drew the pictures — with background illustrations and technical support from my son, William.

“I have been visiting libraries with my books now and love getting to read to children and their families. Working with children has been so rewarding — both on the bus and providing my stories for them. I feel myself smiling every time I see the happiness a story or a ‘Good morning!’ greeting brings to our young bus riders.

“I guess We Transport has liked my work, too. It nominated me as bus monitor of the year in 2017 and 2019 — and I won. And I am so happy I became a writer and illustrator. I also love attending events with other local children’s book authors. It’s wonderful sharing the love of books with others.”

Interviewed by Saul Schachter