If you’re like me, you occasionally find yourself in a situation where some essential piece of information is missing and you mutter, “Dang it, now what?” On the other hand, if you’re anything like this week’s guest, you don’t moan about it, you fix it. Such is the case with Kathryn Starke, elementary school literacy specialist, children’s author and the founder/CEO of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, an advocate for quality literacy instruction for all children. A graduate of Longwood University in Virginia with degrees in elementary education, literacy and culture, Kathryn is a freelance writer and public speaker. Check her out in the following places: www.creativemindspublications.com, www.facebook.com/creativemindspublications, www.twitter.com/kathrynstarke and www.pinterest.com/kathrynstarke. Welcome to Book Blather, Kathryn.
I have taught in public school systems for eleven years as a first, second, and third grade teacher as well as a literacy specialist at the elementary school level. Having spent a decade in Title I and inner city schools, I work with students each year from a variety of backgrounds and wide range of reading levels. The priority role in my position is to provide my students with engaging and educational children's literature that motivates them to read and learn. I was teaching first grade and planning a geography unit for my class when I realized there were no developmentally appropriate stories to teach the seven continents. Yes, I could find seven different nonfiction books, but they were strictly informational and much too advanced for six-year-olds. For my introductory lesson, I pulled down the world map in my classroom, gathered the children on the front rug, and told them the story of Amy's Travels.
My friend Amy grew up on five continents since her father worked for the Embassy; her childhood memories provided a story and lesson that would stick with my students. Once I saw both the interest and intrigue my students expressed, I decided this book should be written and published for all children and teachers in my home state of Virginia. Thankfully, I connected with a publisher in Richmond that helped with the packaging and publishing of Amy's Travels while my illustrators used photographs and images from the real life Amy to add illustrations to match the text. I started Creative Minds Publications, a global educational company, to publish and market this social studies resource to schools around the Commonwealth and nation.
Amy's Travels is a multicultural children's book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. This book, the first children's picture book to teach all seven continents, has been released in its second edition this year and is a recommended title by the California State Board of Education. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, Amy's Travels is used today in homes and schools throughout the nation and on six continents.