Addicted to Reading From Early OnThe path to being a children's author
"I was born in a log cabin in the woods....
Scratch that. Writing has been a passion of mine for many years. I grew up in Ohio, near one of the best libraries in the world. I still miss it. The downtown branch consists of a city block of buildings with marble columns, stone floors, grand staircases . . . and books. Rooms and rooms filled with them. The corridors seemed to go on for miles and I was in heaven. Books were my escape and my portal to the rest of the world.
I read every spare moment and made up adventures of my own. I became an escaped princess from Persia. I convinced my neighborhood friends that my parents were doing a favor for the king by hiding me from assassins. After confessing my ruse, I divided my friends into groups of spies ala "Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Mission Impossible." I was always the evil villain. Somehow those characters had the broadest range and the most fun.
During that time I wrote even more implausible stories. It took many more years before I had the courage to follow my dreams. I thought writers were famous people like Dr. Seuss and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I didn't know that writers were ordinary people with extraordinay passion.
People just like you and me.
My writing took a circuitous route that included a New England boarding school, two MIT degrees (Engineering and Art & Design -- I'm the ultimate oxymoron) and a series of jobs that included working for a start-up software company followed by several years at Harvard University and more than a decade as a Graphic Arts Manager at Hallmark Cards. Still, the desire to write kept whispering in my ear.
These days my daughters read prolifically as do their friends, but many of their urban peers do not. There's a good reason for that. Multi-cultural children don't see themselves depicted as being relevant in today's society - as making a difference. They don't get to be the "heroes." So why bother? And yes, while more books are being published that depict children of color, most show us mired in stereotypes, or are tailored to what publishers "think" we want to read, or "think" we are so the voices don't ring true. Like a familiar accent, I can tell when the voice is off right away. We are a diverse and wonderful people from continents all over the world. Children of all colors spring from rich cultural and spiritual beginnings that publishing hasn't even begun to tap.
So I decided to lend my voice and help change the climate. Sixty five commercially published books so far. And in the process I realized that just as we need to inspire students to read for pleasure, we also need to show them the path towards math and science. How art and math are not mutually exclusive in terms of how higher order thinking is developed.
It's been a wonderful journey and I've made great friends along the way. Best of all, an amazing peer group of authors and some of the best teachers and librarians in the Midwest. My extended family.
Welcome to my new life. May you have many blessings on your journey as well!
P.S. If you are thinking about being a writers - click on the link for "Resources" I included some tips, links and clues there so you won't have to start entirely from scratch.
People are saying .....
The Lost Tribes (Move Books) ".... Well-written and well-paced: a promising start to what should be an exciting and unusual sci-fi series. (Science fiction. 10-14)"
Sacred Mountain: Everest (Lee and Low Books) ".... For young armchair travelers who may make the climb someday, this mixture of science, geography, culture and the original extreme sport is irresistible."
The Bill Of Rights (Childrens Press/Scholastic) As an introductory resource (Accelerated Reader grade level 5.3) for the study of the Bill of Rights, The Bill of Rights (True Books), does a good job of bringing the importance of this historic document down to the daily lives of students in the middle grades.Avoiding a hagiographic tone in which the Bill of Rights is seen as handed down from on high, Taylor-Butler presents it as a product of compromise, a living document with an interesting past and a significant ongoing influence on individual lives and on the nation.
North Carolina Best Books Blogspot
The Constitution (Childrens Pess/Scholastic) nominated for ALSC Notables and North Carolina Standard of Study:" Did you know that the delegates from Virginia and Pennsylvania were the only ones to show up on the correct date for the Constitutional Convention? This work really takes a complicated subject and makes it very accesible to children. This book begins providing quick facts on the cover and continues to the back cover! It is engaging, full of pictures, illustrations, and sidebar facts. It contains a table of contents, a timeline, a statistics page, resources, a glossary, with bold words explained, places to visit, and websites. I especially liked the "Inside the Constitution" page- -it really simplifies it down to what the Preamble and the Articles are all about in a quick and easy to understand sentence. A great resource for elementary school with enough odd facts that kids who love their nonfiction books may pick it up on their own--and actually read it! It is a slim volume that does not cover everything--but does get to the heart of the information in an inquiry-based way that will appeal to children. I nominate it for inclusion. Recommended for upper elementary and especially 5th grade social studies.
School Library Journal:
[Achoo, Step by Step, et al] These simply written titles will appeal to newly independent readers..with one short sentence per page, these titles are good choices for youngsters who are developing word recognition skills. In all three books, colorful cartoon illustrations adequately convey the action described in the pleasant texts.-Laurel L. Iakovakis, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
[Tiny Life Series] Vividly illustrated with photographs, the simple texts introduce readers to helpful and harmful bacteria. . . . Pronunciation aids embedded in the texts help beginning readers master the terminology independently. Each book ends with a spread entitled -Words You Know- that features terms from the text (vaccine, virus) illustrated with photographs. Good introductions for budding scientists."-Jean Lowery, Bishop Woods Elementary School, New Haven, CT