An interest in eyes led Sakesha Caston, OD ‘00, to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) and eventually to a successful career as an optometrist. But it’s her interest in the opposite end of the human body — particularly in tiny toes — that had given her success of another kind, that of children’s author.

She has published her first children’s book, titled “Mommy Loves My Little Toes,” and it’s been a long journey from the time she had the concept to the time it culminated into a reality.

Book cover“I’m not an author, and I’ve never written anything other than papers or posters for clinic,” said Dr. Caston, who works in exam development and administration for the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. “And, I didn’t see myself as an author. Several times I told myself I couldn’t do it, so I kind of sabotaged myself for quite a while.”

The idea started when she had her son, Jesiah in 2006. Dr. Caston’s mother had been there for the birth and was staying for a few weeks to help. During one bath time for Jesiah, Dr. Caston was trying her best to be gentle with the baby. While watching, her mother suggested that she not forget to wash in between the baby’s toes.“I was thinking to myself that maybe I heard her wrong,” said Dr. Caston. “How on earth could I possibly wash in between those teeny, tiny toes that were so unbelievably cute?”

From then on, during bath time or while putting socks and shoes on Jesiah, Dr. Caston would play with the baby’s toes and delight in his giggles.

Sakesha CastonAnd, thus the concept for “Mommy Loves My Little Toes” was born. But it wouldn’t be easy to actually turn that concept into a book. In fact, in between seeing patients and keeping busy with work, it took seven years to get the words written for the book and to settle on an illustrator to make it a reality. She eventually chose professional artist Hayley Moran for the illustrations.

“It’s not a long book, so it didn’t take long to write. I was just thinking about my son and what we do every day and how much I love that little face and those little toes,” said Dr. Caston. “It wasn’t difficult to come up with the words once I actually sat down.”

But, getting it published was an even bigger hurdle. Dr. Caston didn’t think any of the big publishing houses would pick up a first-time author, so she consulted with a friend from undergraduate school who had self-published her own children’s book and decided to go that route.

All along the way, Jesiah, who is now 14 years old, was always encouraging his mom to continue to push forward with the project. 

“Whenever I mentioned to him that I had talked with the illustrator, he’d ask, ‘Is Miss Hayley done with the pictures yet?’ He was always pushing me,” said Dr. Caston, who in addition to her NBEO role is also employed by National Vision, Inc. and when needed, fills in for a friend who owns a LensCrafters. “In fact, at times he was pushing it more than I was focused on it. He was definitely involved from cover to cover. I wanted to make sure I got his input on the illustrations because they look exactly like him.”

Dr. Caston said now that her first book is out, with an accompanying website where the book can be ordered, family and friends are encouraging her to do children’s books No. 2 and No. 3. 

“I tell them if you knew how long it took me to write the first one, you wouldn’t be saying that,” she said. “I don’t know. I won’t rule it out, but I don’t see it in the near future. But if this one goes well, you never know.”