NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Katherine Noble meticulously flipped through children’sbook after children’s book, poring over each one’s subject matter to gain inspiration for the all-important decision: what her book, the capstone project for her Master of Arts in publishing program at Stephen F. Austin State University, was going to be about.
A motorcycle aficionado, Noble’s decision to make a motorcycle-themed children’s book quickly proved inevitable. But what became apparent after hours of research was that most similar children’s books were tailored for boys.
It became Noble’s mission to write a children’s book that empowers young girls to develop a basic knowledge of motorcycle riding and safety. That’s exactly how her book, “If You Give a Girl a Motorcycle,” came to be.
“I am a major advocate for empowering girls to ride their own motorcycle,” Noble said.
Using skills learned in her Bachelor of Arts in English program, which she completed at SFA in 2021, Noble finished her capstone project and received her master’s degree in December 2022.
Noble’s capstone book is about teaching her 4-year-old niece how to ride a motorcycle. It features Noble’s brother, Jeremy Davis, and her husband, Jack, an SFA student currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Both teach her basic skills and safety based on lessons from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation tailored to fit a younger audience.
“Motorcycle safety is important, and if you teach them young, it will follow them even into their adult years,” Noble said. “The book also features my black cat, Salem, who is my niece’s best friend and shadow. He watches over her in the book and is on almost every page.”
Jack illustrated the book, creating the images to look as if they were drawn by a child. In what could only be described as a labor of love, the two workshopped the story for months. Once they settled on a color scheme and solidified the story after countless rewrites, everything fell into place.
The book also teaches 11 words in American Sign Language. According to Noble, ASL has had a large influence on her life — she taught herself the language and initially transferred to SFA to study deaf education in 2014. Noble said she is going deaf and uses ASL to communicate while in loud settings.
The inclusion of ASL in a book about motorcycles was intentional.
“There is a large community of motorcycle riders who are deaf and hard of hearing, so I started to notice my book bridging gaps while also standing alone in a class by itself,” Noble said. “I have met so many deaf or ASL-speaking individuals in my travels, and it warms my heart when they realize someone can communicate with them without having to write words on a pad of paper.”
Her dream of writing a book felt, at first, unattainable. However, with Noble’s SFA education, along with support from faculty and staff who encouraged her, Noble was able to make that dream a reality. She credits Kimberly Verhines, SFA University Press director, and Dr. Joyce Johnston, professor in and associate dean of SFA’s College of Liberal and Applied Arts, for cultivating her talents and encouraging her to venture out of her comfort zone.
“Some students must be prodded to think outside the box. Katherine was never one of those students,” Johnston said. “It was a true delight to see Katherine’s ideas evolve into an unconventional yet incredibly charming children’s book. Katherine’s work ethic and fearless approach to new tasks are on display to anyone who opens the book to enjoy its empowering message, complete with ASL signing throughout.”
Currently an administrative assistant for the SFA Department of Languages, Cultures and Communication, Noble also serves as secretary of the Nacogdoches chapter of Gypsy MC International, a coed family-oriented motorcycle club that raises money for charity. She also teaches the public about motorcycle safety during events. Recently, the chapter hosted an emergency response seminar to inform the public what to do when they see a motorcycle crash site.
“If You Give a Girl a Motorcycle” was officially published Feb. 2, but it also sold nearly 100 books during a holiday presale. The book can be purchased on Amazon.
For more information about the Master of Arts in publishing, visit gosfa.com/publishing.