Wisdom from a Wordsmith — Episode 3

Once August comes, I start gearing up to get back into the classroom.  One thing I love about teaching is that every year is a fresh start.  I love looking for new ideas and making the activities and strategies I have used other years even better. So as I work on the teachers’ guide to A Cursed Enchantment this week, I will happily have my head in two of my favorite roles:  teacher and writer.

I am so happy to share an interview with a remarkable fellow teacher and author.  Shannon Olsen’s engaging children’s books have become quite popular over the past few weeks.  I have downloaded her book,  A Letter from Your Teacher, to use in one of my introductory lessons during our first week of school.  If you are a teacher, you will want to check out this touching and beautifully written book!

Introducing Shannon Olsen!

Tell me a little about your background.

I grew up in Southern California and still reside there with my husband and two daughters. Prior to becoming an author, I graduated from the University of California Irvine with a B.A. in English and M.A. in Teaching. I’ve taught second grade for the last 15 years and started my own business a few years ago, creating and selling downloadable resources for elementary teachers to use in their classrooms. I published my first children’s book (Our Class is a Family) in 2020 and my second book (A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School) in 2021. 

Thanks to the incredible support from fellow educators, each title has become a #1 best seller in several children’s book categories. In addition, both books have also made it into the Top 5 on the Amazon Charts during back to school season for all books sold. 

Tell me what led to you becoming an author. 

I have always dreamed of being an author since I was a kid. My dad once visited my classroom as a guest visitor to read the kids a story. He told my students that I used to carry a book with me everywhere I went, which I remember doing. That love of reading led to a love of writing too.

It wasn’t until I had been teaching for many years (and had started creating resources for other teachers) that I became inspired to actually pursue writing and publishing a children’s book. Not only was it something I’d always dreamed of doing, but I felt it was a way to help serve educators at the same time. 

Your books became bestsellers almost overnight.  Why do you think so many have been interested in your books?

I was inspired to write Our Class is a Family because it was a book I wanted to read to my own class. Just like many teachers, I would often tell my students that we are like a family. During back to school time, I was wanting to buy a picture book that I could read aloud to them that could help express that idea, but it didn’t exist. So I decided to go for it and write one myself…I thought that if it was the type of book I wanted in my own classroom, other teachers might find it helpful too. 

Building connections and positive relationships with kids is a priority for so many educators, and I believe that is why the message of the book has resonated with them. It is what teachers have always thought, felt, and said for years…it had just never been put in the form of a picture book. 

What advice do you have for those who are interested in becoming teachers or authors?

For those interested in becoming teachers- Teaching is the best job and the toughest job. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the “extras” that are required of you in addition to just actually teaching. Focus on what’s best for your kids, making them the main priority. 

For those interested in becoming authors- There is a HUGE learning curve when it comes to publishing. It takes a great deal of time and effort, and there are no guarantees it will pay off. But if you’re really passionate about your book and are willing to put in the hard work, it is absolutely worth going for it. 

To find out more about Shannon, check out the following links:

Website:  www.lifebetweensummers.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lifebetweensummers

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lifebetweensummers 

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