Guest Blog with Heather B. Moon
This month's guest post is by FBP Children's Author Heather B. Moon. She is the author of the series Tillie's Adventures.
Why being a teacher helps me to write my children's books.
I'm a teacher. Well, an ex-teacher. I retired some time ago. I used to spend my day around children of all ages. Teaching them to write, inspiring their creativity, reading to them, helping them find books of their own to love. I would catch myself noticing little events in their day to day activities and my ears tuned to scraps of dialogue during playtime.
I would spend hours choosing just the right books to bring into my classroom, ones that will open up the minds of my youngsters to teach them about the world, and spark their imaginations. I always had a little voice inside my head saying 'I could write a children’s book.'
As a primary qualified teacher I always felt I had an advantage over other writers. For instance, I know my audience. I know what kids like and what they don’t. I was in a position to observe all the dynamics of kids and teens interacting with their peers, and often get a glimpse into their family lives as well. I understand the social pecking order. The current trends may change. The fact that a student who is a wallflower in gym class can blossom in science or art does not change throughout the generations. Simply paying attention to who your students are gave me the inspiration for creating believable, interesting characters for my stories.
Listening to how students talk to their friends, gave me a good sense of how they feel about themselves. When writing children's dialogue it shouldn't sound like it’s coming from an adult.
When students are involved in creative activities like art or writing, you get a glimpse at how their minds work and what’s important to them. This helped me to write books that are relevant to my readers.
For example, my work in progress is 'The Biggest Nastypalaian in the World'. My main protagonist, Tillie, travels through Europe in a campervan (RV if you are not British!) She is on a mission to save the bees from extinction. She is accompanied by her Grandma, a professor and her friend Alana. I make her character think as a young girl. She is embarrassed by some of the things her Grandma does but yet she admires her in some ways. Throughout the story her thoughts are:
'That's the thing about Grandmas...' (I then write various scenarios which children would find cringe worthy.)
I feel all girls from around 8 to 13 years of age would relate to this.
I taught most subjects. (Except Languages, everyone has their limits!) No matter what subject I was teaching I always prepared my lessons well. I had to engage my students to present my topic in the most interesting way. I also taught most age groups, from 3 year olds obsessed with 'The Mr. Men ' books to 14 year olds obsessed with soccer. I needed to be the first to grasp what makes students want to learn more. I also would know instantly when they became bored. Three year olds become fidgety; fourteen year olds develop vacant, dreamy expression on their faces.
The bottom line is, I JUST LOVE KIDS! I was brought up as part of a large family, the middle child of five. When my elder sister and brother found their partners and began producing little nephews and nieces I was delighted to babysit. I always knew I wanted to become a teacher. Reading stories to children is a delight to me. Making up my own stories and having them published is a bonus. If you want to be a successful children’s book writer, you have to actually like your audience. You have to understand, and respect how they see the world and get through their day. These are some of the reasons I went into teaching in the first place.
And the cherry on top of the icing on the cake is that I will get to read my very own books to my three beautiful grandchildren!
About Heather B. Moon
Heather B. Moon was born in Royton, Lancashire. She qualified as a Primary teacher at Mather College of Education, Manchester. Heather is married with two grown up children and three beautiful grandchildren.
After teaching for some time in the Oldham area, Heather and her husband Ian acquired their own school in the north of England. She now spends her at her villa in Lanzarote and walking the South West coast path close to her home in Cornwall.
Heather has written and illustrated a series of children’s adventure books. Tillie’s Adventures are published by Fountain Blue Publishers.
Many hours of reading stories ‘out loud’ to children in her class has given Heather the experience to know just what holds their attention. She believes a fidgety child at story time is a bored child. The story must keep moving forward and the child should want to turn the page.
She also paints under the artist name of Heather Reading Barber.
Thank you Heather for being my guest. You can find Heather at the following links.
Heather B. Moon www.heatherbmoon.com