Life’s Many Gifts 4


IMG_7192The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. Oprah Winfrey

One year ago I had just received the proof of my first picture book, Halloween Night, it was so exciting I think I had to be pealed off the ceiling! Looking back I cant believe all I have had the opportunity to do since then! AND, all I have learned since then!  I am so grateful for the adventure my life is! I just received the proof for my 3rd book, Thanksgiving Weekend!  I’m also currently working on paintings that will be the illustrations for another author’s book. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to bring a little more light, love, and laughter into the world by creating art and creating picture books – being an artist, author, and illustrator has been a dream of mine since childhood. Life is full of gifts. There are so many reasons to read picture books; sometimes a picture book teaches a lesson, or  a concept, and sometimes its all about the love of books and the joy of reading! I am a fan of all things book. I read so many picture books to little ones throughout each year I get to witness the joy they can bring, the sense of adventure they can provide, as well as the thoughts they can provoke, reading them over and over again.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. Stephen King

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking with a group of high school students at summer writing camp. Every time I visit students as an author/illustrator I have tremendous fun. Usually I visit grade school children, I enjoyed these high schoolers every bit as much! The theme of their writing camp this year is ‘Writing All Around You’ , I was their guest author on picture book day. Later that day they would have a chance to try their hand at writing a picture book. They were absolutely delightful and we had a wonderful time discussing books, writing, and publishing. We reminisced books from their childhood, or that of their younger siblings. We discussed elements to consider when approaching writing a picture book. We looked at my first two books Halloween Night and Test Day, Team Player comparing the audience of these books. I explained my experiences with the power of picture books not just as an author, but as a classroom teacher, parent, and child care provider. Finally we focused on the subject of my second book, test anxiety.

One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world. Malala Yousafzai

I wrote my book, Test Day, Team Player to aid students in combatting test anxiety. Its based on a strategy I used in my 4th and 3rd grade classrooms with great success. These high school students knew the feeling of anxiousness over taking a test all too well. They also understood their mindset going into a test session can impact their performance. After discussing why I wrote that book, and what the general premise was, I asked them to indulge me as I read it to them. They were great listeners, but I could not have predicted the result.

We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already. J.K. Rowling

After reading Test Day, Team Player aloud one of the students, a young man way in the back corner, raised his hand and earnestly asked how we could apply the concept of the book to high school. Since my target audience is 3rd through 6th graders I didn’t expect that, and honestly I hadn’t given it any though. I assumed they would look at the book and its concept as being for younger students and dismiss any thought of it applying to them or being helpful for them. Of course, thats silly, we are only limited by our own thinking. We can choose to dismiss a good idea as being for younger kids or we can choose to figure out how to use it to our advantage – its all how we choose to look at it. Our thoughts are so powerful! I really enjoyed brainstorming with them as we came up with a really great solution to create a more grown up version of the concept. These kids are sharp, they thought of a variety of situations that could arise and we figured out how to overcome them. They knew they would probably need to enlist their teacher to help organize and give reminders as test day arrives – I hope they talk to their teachers next year and give it a try! My heart felt so full! It wasn’t just affirming to have the concept of my book appeal to these older students as a way to help alleviate anxiety, it was wonderful to see the power this picture book held and the open minds of this generation. This book can help students of all ages – which was my goal in writing the book. Bringing more light, love, and happiness to the world…through helping others. I think I received as much as I gave that day – actually I know I did!

The heart that gives, gathers. Tao Te Ching

Light, love, and laughter,

Shannon


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