Kate Narita is a writer and fourth-grade teacher. She earned her undergraduate degree and master’s in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA in writing for children from Simmons College. She lives, writes, and hikes on a small mountain in central Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and dog. Learn more at katenarita.com
Kate Palaces Narita is the author of 100 BUGS! A COUNTING BOOK. When she's not out and about driving, teaching or cheering on her two teenage sons, Kate lives, writes, and hikes on a small mountain in central Massachusetts. There's a magical part of Mt. Wachusett in every one of her stories. Be it small wonders like darting dragonflies and gorgeous garden phlox, or large wonders like munching moose and beautiful balsam firs, she celebrates nature's bounty each and every day.
"About" taken from the Macmillan spring 2018 catalog.
Reading has influenced my life since before I had a conscious memory. My dad tells me he started reading Shakespeare to me when I was a toddler, but I don’t remember that; however, I do remember I couldn't wait to go to bed because he would read me a book.
When I was four, I was sitting in my living room on our blue velour couch turning the pages of my favorite book, SNOW, by Roy McKie, when the letters suddenly became words. I ran into the kitchen to tell my parents, and after that I read book after book.
So what books did I choose? In elementary school I read C.S. Lewis’s THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE over and over again. In middle school, Katherine Patterson’s JACOB HAVE I LOVED lived in my heart.
When I graduated college and taught bilingual Spanish first grade, lack of reading materials in Spanish prompted me to start writing. If you click on this link http://www.katenarita.com/about-kate.html you can read the first poem I wrote word-for-word.
Funny thing is when I was reading to my own two sons in English, I found there were still books that didn't exist that I wanted to read. So, that's when I started writing seriously.
In addition to being a writer and a parent, I'm also a fourth grade teacher. Reading influences me in the classroom as well. When I read aloud to my class not only is it an amazing opportunity for everyone to fall in love with reading, it's also an incredible avenue for building community in our room and getting to know one another better. In early November of 2018, I received an exquisite compliment from a student. Here's what he said, "Reading with you is like wow. You unfold books in a way that I've been trying to do for years. It's amazing." So, reading hasn't only influenced my life. It's influenced my family's life and my student's lives for years.
I hope every young reader of my book is encouraged to spend a whole day outside. The natural world offers us opportunities to experience wonder and delight each second of our lives; however, too often we miss these gifts because we're inside or we're outside rushing to another indoor location. 100 BUGS! highlights ten different gorgeous insects and ten different stunning flowers that await outside some people's doors. Whether young readers live in the city, the suburbs or the country, nature has a gift waiting just for them. I'd love for young readers to write me and let me know what kinds of insects, flowers and other wonders are outside their doors.
The fourth grade teacher in me would love every young reader to learn the ten different combinations of ten. When students master the combinations of ten, math is so much more fun.
Finally, I hope readers delight in seeking-and-finding all of Suzanne's gorgeous bugs in the book. Enjoy!
Sit with your child and read books as often as you can. Each time you open a book with your child, the two of you have an opportunity to explore a new world together and get to know each other in a new way. When your kids are able to read books on their own, keep reading with them. Don't abandon your household reading routine because you think you're no longer needed. As a fourth grade teacher, I tell my students' parents at conferences to ask three questions when they're reading with their child: 1) What happened? 2) Why did that happen? and 3) Should it have happened? These questions will open a hidden window into your child's heart and the memories will last a lifetime.
Two of my role models are my mentors, April Jones Prince and Melissa Stewart. I began writing seriously fourteen years ago, and both of these authors have supported me every step of the way. April Jones Prince coordinated the first critique group I ever joined. When I first started writing, my stories needed a ton of work. But April always noted something positive in my work even though there were very few plusses to note fourteen years ago. It's really important to find someone to support you no matter which stage of the writing process you're in.
Melissa Stewart also attended April's critique group. Melissa kept raising the bar higher and higher, pushing me to do more than it seemed I was capable of doing.
After I earned my MFA in Writing for Children at Simmons College, I thought about not pursuing publication for a while. After all, I'd been writing for a decade and still hadn't been able to sell a book. April said, "Whatever you do, don't quit." It's the best advice I've ever received. There's always a chance your dream will come true if you keep trying to reach it.
Early morning. It's quiet, and I have lots of energy. After a day of teaching, all I want to do is eat dinner and go to bed. So, I get my writing done first thing in the morning. It's a magical part of the day. The house is silent, except for my dog pawing the door to get outside. My dining room, which is where I work, greets new ideas with open arms. We have a bay window which features the stars and moon in the night and rainbow sunrises as dawn breaks over the Eastern horizon.
I take a walk in the woods. Almost all the pictures on my website www.katenarita.com are from the state park that surrounds my house. When I'm in the woods, my mind clears and answers appear.
Within the field of children's literature, I'd like to publish a second book. I'm currently working on the fourth draft of a novel. It would be great if readers could someday hold that novel in their hands. In my classroom, I'd like to get students as excited about reading nonfiction as they are about reading fiction. In my household, I'd like to stay sane as my older son completes the college application process. In other words, I'd like to be a more supportive, kind and loving parent.