“Writing well has everything to do with being able to read one’s own work with an eye toward the utmost possibilities that are there.” —Lucy Calkins
One of my earliest experiences with writing was documented and saved by my mother, a kindergarten teacher, who believed all forms of writing and reading were to be savored, enjoyed, and kept. The product of my crayon creativity was a plump red breasted robin colored in shades of brown, tan and black with a bright yellow beak. My illustration further showed Robin Red Breast parading through big round blue raindrops and puddles in his rubber galoshes where I had written the words; “Rain, rain, go away. Robin Red-Boots wants to play.”
Reading and Writing have always come easily to me although there have been many stages to my writing journey. I can remember reading and reciting to anyone who would listen and being the first in class to volunteer to read-aloud. I loved it all – the rigor, the conversations, the characterizations, the desire to always keep learning. Also, I recall my parents urging me to take my nose out of the book I was reading and go out and “get some fresh air.” I’m not sure it worked all that well as I loved school, reading books, and writing at all times of the day.
Much of my creativity came from designing and acting out the books I read. These dramatic presentations often included my brother, sister and play friends in the neighborhood. One of my favorite books at the time was, and still is, Charlotte’s Web. As I reflect on those youthful fun filled days of play and performances I recently read these thoughts expressed by E.B. White:
“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
When I went away to college in New York and then Rhode Island I quickly realized that supporting peers with their writing assignments was creative, fun, and powerful. After graduation, with a degree in illustration and textile design, I settled in Wells, Maine.
Choosing to live in Maine is where my path diverged and yet continued to involve writing—and perpetually reading—as I earned another degree this time in literacy education which enabled me to participate in several rounds of literacy-based Federal grant writing at the Muskie School of Public Service in the University of Southern Maine. Academic writing is precise, meticulous, and challenging and the potential for fulfillment was gratifying. This experience then led me to investigate and pursue training as a literacy coach, a communications director for a large non-profit agency, an elementary school instructional strategist, and finally into my current position teaching reading to young children in the public school where I have had the pleasure each day to walk into a large office that overlooks the forested Eastern Trail in Kennebunk, Maine.
My colorful book filled office is where I continue to live daily “between the covers” of books as I support young children to become readers and writers. These children who visit me each day are filled with wonder at the number of books that line my shelves and work spaces and who often ask me, “Have you read all of these books?” As you can imagine, I have the good fortune to reply “yes” and then to turn to each of them and say, “and someday you will too.”