top of page

I have wanted to be a children's author for as long as I can remember, but as an elementary teacher and then an assistant principal, it was hard to consider a world outside of a school building. But about two years ago, the thought finally crept in that I could design a business doing what I love - creating activities and curricula for teachers and librarians and helping them bring beautiful books to life for kids - all while working from home, giving more time to my two little boys, and building greater connections in the KidLit world. In June 2023, I took a leap. I left the school building where I worked for 16 years and formed The Book Links!

But how does that connect to a writing contest? And where does it fit in on my journey? Well, a few years ago, I came upon KidLit author Vivian Kirkfield's website and discovered her writing contest, #50PreciousWords. Can you write a story with a beginning, middle, and end in just 50 words?! At first, I was too nervous to enter the contest. Although I had been getting good feedback on my writing from some local critique buddies, I wasn't ready for my writing to be, "out out" the world. And 50 words...that's tough!!!

But in 2022, I was considering alternatives to working at my school, and decided it was time to garner some courage and start putting myself, and my writing, out there. I entered #50PreciousWords and got some positive comments on my story. I entered again in 2023 and was an honorable mention. Now, with more encouragement and a friend by my side to help me cut words line-by-line and talk through the structure of my story, I am happy to share that I am submitting a 2024 entry!

Most of my writing is based on personal experiences, and this story is no different. My childhood up to adulthood was spent with my mom and I moving in with them when I was 2. Although my grandpa passed away in 2021 at the age of 98, I am still able to spend one or two days a week with my 97-year old Granny. My love and admiration for them run deep within my veins and writing stories that incorporate some of our experiences is how I know I'll keep them with me forever.

Take a look at my 2024 #50PreciousWords entry here and then go take a look at all the other amazing writers taking a leap this weekend and putting their writing out there for the world to see! Click the image below to visit the contest site and check it out!

36 views0 comments

For the first post on The Book Links' Blog, it seems only fitting to begin with a post about the books that are our children's literary foundation - the board book. The Book Links aims to link authors to readers and classrooms through digital and downloadable materials. So, for each post I write, I also plan to share at least one free educational resource I have created that "links" to the topic. In writing for young readers, we learn about the Rule of Threes, so it's only fitting that I start us off by highlighting three board books I recently learned about and offering three free resource downloads to accompany the books!

Board books. They introduce our youngest readers (often just listeners, babblers, and beginning talkers, at this stage) to the connection between words and the world. Sometimes in black and white (great for infants whose eyes are still developing), but often in color, board books typically only have a few words, if any, per page, and focus on a particular topic to keep the readers' attention. When my boys were babies and toddlers, we easily had over 100 board books in our house (shhh...we probably still do!) and there were more than a few favorites that we read over and over (and over and over...) again (and many that were not only fun to read, but delicious for the boys to chew...ahhh, teething!).

While my boys are no longer at the age that most board books are designed for, a few weeks ago, our family ventured to New York City's financial district to attend the New York Jewish Book Festival's session on Jewish Board Books. We were here to support our good friend Nancy Churnin, but got so much more out of the event, and met some new authors too. Though our family is not Jewish, my husband and I have always wanted our kids to be exposed to and learn about the views, beliefs, and traditions of others and develop respect for all those with whom we share this world - and this was the perfect opportunity, especially as we look for a way to explain the current events in the world to our elementary-aged kids. Held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, we listened to Nancy, along with authors Ann Koffsky and Sarah Aroeste, share their recently published board books. All three books were unique in topic, structure, and, as we learned during the event Q&A, in the writing process.

Nancy Churnin's Counting on Shabbat is a counting book that takes young readers through a Shabbat dinner and introduces such special elements as the braids of the challah bread, and the matzoh balls in the soup. Nancy Churnin's books usually focus on the kindness of others, and Counting on Shabbat is no different. Nancy explained that she had to be creative in finding a way to share different parts of a Shabbat dinner, using numbers 1-10 for the book's counting element, all while telling a story of showing kindness and being there for our elders.

Ann Koffsky's Sheep says Shalom is a fun accordion-style book that introduces young readers to the word "Shalom." With the "hello" meaning of Shalom on one side and "goodbye" meaning on the other, Ann as both the author and illustrator of the book, created an easy-to-understand story that also incorporates colorful illustrations, sure to catch the eye of any little one! Ann explained that in her design process, she not only had to think of the story to write, but also a creative way to illustrate it, knowing it would be told on both sides of the fold-out book!

Sarah Aroeste's Mazal Bueno! is a fun rhyming book that not only follows the milestones reached by our littlest readers, but also introduces the audience to the language of Ladino and a new phrase that is sure to be repeated over and over again! After reading it the first time, it was hard not to say "Mazal Bueno!" at each small celebration in my household! Sarah explained that during the writing process, her challenge was using a bilingual text structure while being sure to keep it rhyming!

These books, as with any board books, can easily be connected to everyday life and their concepts made more accessible to your little ones. Putting on my educator hat, here are some of my recommendations:

  • When you read Nancy Churnin's Counting on Shabbat, think of all the ways you can count around a meal - how many people are sitting at the table? What if someone gets up or someone new sits down - how many are there now? Find ways to count the food on the table - how many Cheerios are in the bowl or how many peas on the plate? And it's never too early to start talking to your child about bigger math concepts and involve older siblings in the conversation. Don't be afraid to say, "Mommy has two carrots on her plate, but Daddy has three. Daddy has one more than Mommy. Mommy has one less than Daddy."

  • As you read Ann Koffsky's Sheep says Shalom, talk about the animals in the book. Where do they live? What sounds do they make? What is the difference between the animals? What is the same about them? Older kids can talk about the word "Shalom" and identify times throughout their day when they would say it to someone else.

  • For Sarah Aroeste's book, talk about the different ways to congratulate a special event and look up how to say it in different languages! In English, we can say "Congratulatons!" In Spanish, we can say "¡Felicitaciones!" See if you can get your little ones to say "Mazal Bueno!" to you throughout the day for things you do, and then use this as an opportunity with older kids to talk about the events throughout their day that can be celebrated.

Now for the fun stuff - FREE RESOURCES! If you've read any of these books with your little ones and want an activity that takes the learning a step further, here are free worksheets to download (just click on the image, and a PDF that you can download and print will open). Each worksheet includes an activity and a learning extension at the end!

As you head off for the rest of your day, I'll leave you with a Book Links staple - the Clickable Author Poster! Click on the poster below to access the documents from this blog post and for links to the author sites, book purchase pages and more! Until we link again...!

37 views1 comment
bottom of page