I'm headed to the SCBWI conference this weekend. I'm so excited to be surrounded by writers and illustrators, publishers and agents of children's books.
From 1998 - 2006, I worked in Educational Publishing as a Photo Researcher. All that time, I was working on writing my own books for children and teens, including illustrations. I focused on all the subjects and things that were not in the textbooks we were creating.
Having set it all aside for awhile, (I've been teaching for the past 8 years and focusing on my music) I've recently started the search for an agent or publisher for my first book. And I've just started illustrating a book called Car Wash, by Jeffery Phelps. While I love teaching, getting back to the children's publishing world seems a natural step for me at this point, having had so much time and experience working with children directly.
I've been going to children's book stores (not many left) and reading story upon story, getting so inspired. I love the stories that are funny, as so many are laugh out loud funny. For example, the classic Amelia Bedelia books.
The author, Peggy Parish, was inspired by the funny miscommunications that happen in her classroom over the years. From the quote below, I can tell she is the type of teacher who was an absolute blessing to her students long before she made a huge and hilarious impact with her books.
"Children's rights are taken away from them when they enter school. What I try to show teachers is that all the skills needed to read can be taught outside of textbooks. Today's children are not going to read what they are not interested in. And if a positive attitude toward reading is not developed during the first 3 years of school, it's virtually impossible to develop it later." - Peggy Parish
I agree whole heartedly with this and apply the same idea to teaching music. I find it of the utmost importance that the students who are just starting music, especially the young ages, enjoy their lessons. I strive to instill a positive experience of playing piano and/or singing. This can be tricky cause it's not really that fun to be starting out at the basics on an instrument. It takes a lot of time and patience to get to the fun stuff and there's no shortcut.
But if I can help foster a true joy of music, then the student will be continue to play for the rest of their life. The motivation comes from within. In time, the student will achieve the music they dream of creating.
My first children's book, Master's of Trust, is all about having a safe mindset to explore the arts as a youngster. It is inspiration to look for and develop the natural gifts given to each one of us.
I find children do need guidance to find and develop their own mastery, but also the space to explore. It's a long journey but a worthy pursuit. And the world needs each of us to reach our full potential. We need to find better ways to live and I believe our creativity holds the solutions.
And once the seeds of joy are planted in a child's learning process, no matter what the subject, they will know how to enjoy their unique path of self-discovery. And hopefully laugh a lot along the way.
I want to inspire not only in my music lessons, but in the books I write, as well as illustrate. So here's to a great weekend of learning and networking at SCBWI.