When I was a child, I re-envisioned neighborhood games like wire ball, traveled to space in my under-the-desk rocket, built snow castles for faraway kingdoms, and climbed trees taller than the sun (even after falling into a trash can). I also liked putting on shows in our living room and attempting gymnastic tricks--key word: attempting.
Now, I embrace that sense of wonder and create stories to empower children, teens, and families. I love all-things-Philadelphia, all forms of music, and all people who believe in kindness. My Quiet Ship is my debut picture book. You can likely find me reading it while savoring dark chocolate, attempting gymnastic tricks, or cuddling with my two daughters, hubby, and our dogs.
When I was younger, I liked imagining, creating and running around so much that (confession alert) I didn’t like to read. When I had to, I picked the shortest books so I could get back to playing wall ball or sewing dresses for my stuffed animals. Every so often, I’d find a book that would make me laugh (There’s a Monster at the End of this Book), or dream (Sticky Stanley), or feel understood (The Carrot Seed). Sometimes, books even helped me face hard topics (The Terrible Things). Since I’m still the same person, I’ve found that reading happens “in between” my other activities--kinda like breath. For me, reading has evolved into quiet moments of pause to laugh, dream, feel understood, and face hard topics. Only now, I instead of simply running around, I also run to my computer to write my own stories like My Quiet Ship.
Parents and caregivers know their children the best. This knowledge aka “parent-sense” can help adults find books that suit their children. If a child loves potatoes, it might be fun to read Potato Pants before dinner and do the Po-Bot after eating. If a child is a natural nurturer, then Sophie’s Squash is a sweet book to read. Bonus? Real squash are always quiet during read-alouds. If a child likes to imagine, then If I Built A Car or Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World can get the mind churning before a child rushes to design his/her own car or world-saving science project. Does a child sometimes act like a bully? Maybe he/she can grow with Jean in Mean Jean the Recess Queen. If a child isn’t sure how to quiet down sounds that he/she doesn’t like (e.g. yelling in his/her home), then perhaps My Quiet Ship is the perfect read before building a similar space. Knowing children’s interests and areas where they could blossom, can allow parents/caregivers to think not just of the book, but also about beyond-book experiences that can be just the spark a kid needs to crave reading or even branch out with new interests.
To piggy-back on this, consider getting rid of the “should list”--the list of books adults often think children should be reading. From my work as an educator and a parent, I’ve found that when kids pick books that match their tastes, they are more engaged and more likely to pick up another one.
If a child is reluctant to read even after the “should list” disappears and books/activities are thoughtfully chosen, it could be worth exploring if something about reading frustrates him/her or is difficult for him/her. Sometimes a
conversation about reading can be just as important as reading the next book.
Growing up I wanted to be a singer…and a teacher…and a tree climber…and a news reporter. In that spirit, I am a children’s book author who also loves to do work in other fields. I love all forms of story so I write songs and work on films. I also think children and teens are the most important part of our world--so I go into classrooms, advocate for quality educational experiences, and serve organizations that make the world better for our amazing next generation.