Why, I can’t really say. One person hinted it was the measure of my mental capabilities. She said I think like a kid. I’m still debating whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.
At first, I never thought of writing and publishing children’s stories. Making up silly tales began as a keep-the-kids-busy activity to save my sanity.
My initial attempt at creating a story occurred when I was a novice preschool teacher many years ago. Occasionally, I had to improvise when my scheduled activities didn’t last as long as planned, and a quick substitute was called for on the spot. Mildred, a purple cow who barked like a dog and swam like a duck, was the best my frazzled mind could come up with during one of those gaps.
Believe me, Mildred was a one-time deal. The kids were not impressed, and they let me know their disapproval. Their critiques ranged from blank stares to yawns to walking away. Luckily, Dr. Seuss came to my rescue with his Green Eggs and Ham. Another teacher had noticed my plight, and like magic, the book appeared on the floor beside me.
However, I was not the only failure that day. The teacher who rescued me had the bright idea of cooking some green scrambled eggs by adding a few drops of blue food coloring. Her experiment went okay until the squirt bottle accidentally dropped into the bowl of raw eggs, splashing its contents all over the table, chairs, and nearby arms, legs, and clothes. That was another disaster we never repeated. You talk about unhappy polka-dotted children and their parents, too! Oh my!
We learned from our mistakes. As time passed, my improvised stories improved, transforming my pint-sized critics into fans.
Story time became their favorite part of the day. I experimented with writing longer stories, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. The children and I also authored stories together with the young artists doing the illustrations. The proud kids took their books home with them. Hmmm…I wonder if any still exist.
After getting married and moving to another state, my work with kids came to an end and so did the stories. Yet, the opportunity to write again presented itself when my husband and I developed health issues and had to give up our aviation business. The first Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat stories were written on a legal pad and stored in a desk drawer. I was too busy with my freelance newspaper work to do much with them then. Eventually, my work slowed down, and Patchy and Calico were rescued from the drawer.
Returning to the original question concerning why I do this, I write children’s books because that’s what I’m comfortable doing. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to write. It’s such a thrill to read my stories to kids and listen to their giggles as Patchy gets into one mess after another.
The greatest reward I hope for isn’t fame or fortune but seeing young’uns laughing and having fun while going on adventures with Patchy and Calico.
However, my primary goal is to spread the joy of reading. I want to provide books that encourage kids to keep reading for the rest of their lives.
Could there be anything better than that?
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