Team member Marcie Colleen has said, “in previous chapters I’ve been a teacher and a theater educator, but now I spend my days chasing the children’s author dream.” Marcie is a faculty member at Kidlit Writing School, the Curriculum Developer for Time Traveler Tours & Tales, an educational consultant for Picture Book Month and KidLit TV. Also, she’s an active member of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), 12×12, San Diego Writers, Ink, and the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California. Learn more about Marcie’s kid lit teacher’s guides, her journey as an author, and how she believes literacy impacts children.
First, I want to say just how excited I am to be this month’s Featured Team Member and how honored I am to be a part of the Kidlit TV team all year round as an educational consultant. The rest of the team and I have been cooking up some great educational resources for our Kidlit TV viewers and I am looking forward to sharing them all with you soon. So stay tuned!
As a talented teacher’s guide creator, what do you include in each guide so parents and teachers can follow it easily?
The teacher’s guides I create are just that, a guide through the book. I want to provide teachers and students with opportunities to pause and ponder while reading a book, not just when the book is finished. It’s as if I am a tour guide along the story journey; pointing out the key moments that inspire personal reflection or deeper contemplation along the way to the end. And perhaps even most importantly, allow students to apply the situations in the book to their own lives. This is what creates invested and lifelong readers. This is how books make impact [sic].
Also, I provide a lot of avenues into each book—especially with the picture book teacher’s guides I create. Each guide includes activities for reading comprehension, english language arts, math, science, and social studies. Of course, it is not mandatory that a teacher does each and every activity with their students. I know time is scarce. But, in providing lots of different types of experiences, teachers can be free to find what works for their classroom. Or, better yet, be motivated to create their own activities, using mine as a springboard. What works for one classroom might not work for every classroom. But with lots of variety and options, we are bound to find something for everyone.
What are some tips you would give parents and teachers when studying children’s books at home and in school?
Find moments to connect what is happening in the book to the child’s life. Learning comes, not just in being able to summarize what is happening in the book, but in the ability to synthesize the information and apply it to our own lives. Practice moments of “what would you do?” and “how do you think this character feels?” or “have you ever felt this way?” True learning goes way beyond comprehension. In connecting with story and character we see things through other’s eyes. We relate. We build empathy. There is nothing greater than empathy. Empathy has the power to change the world. So, following that logic, books have the power to create world changes.
What are the joys of creating teacher’s guides for authors?
When I was a high school teacher I wanted to take a group of my drama students to see a touring production of the musical Rent. After all, they were drama students and many of them had never seen a stage production. Unfortunately, I was told by my principal that he just didn’t see the value in it. However, a week or two later the company manager of the show sent me a curriculum guide chock full of educational activities and information relating Rent to the school curriculum. I went back to my principal with the guide in my hand and walked away with permission to take all of my students. This was the early inspiration for my teacher’s guide business.
It is no surprise that time and money are very sparse in schools. Choices need to be made daily about which books to spend money on and which field trips are most beneficial. My mission is to provide authors and illustrators with the tools teachers need to validate a book’s worth. The teacher’s guide says, “I have academic value! I belong in your school library! I belong in your curriculum! My author should come speak to your students!”
As an author, what types of activities do you think kids like the most during author visits?
Any activities that have authors brainstorming or creating with kids to me are the most fun. I like author visits to feel like a masterclass instead of a “let’s hear from the untouchable author.” After all, kids are writers, painters, singers, dancers. All kids are artists. The world hasn’t squashed them down and told them to get real jobs yet. So we should treat them as equals. In fact, we should be looking to them for the answers.
What are you working on now?
In addition to creating teacher’s guides, I am thrilled to say that I am busy working on my new early chapter book series The Super Happy Party Bears which is being published by Macmillan/Imprint. It’s an eight book series and the first two books will be on bookshelves every where September 6, 2016. I’m so super happy about it!
What’s the best part about writing for children?
I never have to really grow up. My immaturity is my biggest asset. Being silly and imaginative actually pays my bills!
What do you think parents and teachers will find most useful about KidLit TV?
When I was growing up I loved books, but I knew nothing about the people who actually wrote the books I loved. I don’t remember there being any videos of the authors or book events at my local library. Consequently, it wasn’t until much later in life that I even realized that being an author could be a real career. That these were real people. So I just adore how Kidlit TV introduces kids to the creators of their favorite stories and provides them with little behind-the-scenes tidbits that can extend well beyond the pages of the book. Maybe we’ll even inspire the next generation to write and create stories of their own.