It has been a big year for the Dillard family. In a short span of five busy days, we graduated all three of our sons — our oldest from college and our twin sons from high school. And I guess you could say our family conversations have also “graduated.” We’ve gone from the early years with talk of playgrounds and farm animals to teenage topics like sports schedules and driver’s licenses to our current discussions on things like dorm life and 401(k)s.
As I take notes for this week’s blog post, I’ve been thinking back to when my own kids were picture book age. At the time, we were living in Lewisburg, a small, central Pennsylvania town. Our friendly borough was surrounded by rolling hills of farmland, and it was almost like living in the pages of a picture book. We would take the wagon to the farmer’s market every Wednesday. There were mornings of big wheel races down the sidewalk to preschool and afternoons of snowball fights at the bus stop. And there were picture books. We had stacks of them all around the house, ready not only for bedtime reading but also for any spur-of-the-moment storytimes, which happened quite often.
It was during this time that I created COWHIDE-AND-SEEK. I wasn’t even writing yet, but I woke up one night around 2am with the idea of a cow character who accidentally leaves her farm and (unknowingly) creates chaos wherever she goes. I loved it so much that I jumped out of bed and quickly wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. The next day, I started writing.
My kids were Bessie’s first readers. And out of all my manuscripts, Bessie was always their favorite. Over the years, they witnessed how the story grew and changed, revision after revision (after revision!). So now, it seems fitting that as my kids graduate and move on to bigger things, my empty nest will soon be happily busy with my new “baby,” a picture book that they helped inspire, nurture, and celebrate alongside me. xoxo 🙂
Welcome to my blog! I call it Tell Me a Story because there are two areas in my life that involve story – writing and teaching.
On the writing side, I have my very first picture book, COWHIDE-AND-SEEK, coming out in Spring 2019. It’s about a cow, Bessie, who hears her farmer counting his cows and mistakenly thinks he’s starting a game of hide-and-seek. When I saw the illustrations for the first time, it was like finally meeting an old friend. It’s hard to explain, but I thought, “Yes, there’s Bessie. So nice to see you!” 😊 I will share the book cover here as soon as I can. Jess Pauwels did an amazing job with the illustrations.
On the teaching side, I’m in my second year as a preschool librarian, which means storytime all day long. (Love it!) One piece of advice that writers hear is to read in the genre that you write, so I’ve definitely got that covered. But the preschool job is helpful to my writing in other ways, as well. I’m surrounded by the people I write for, and they are filled with “story,” too. Whether describing a favorite vacation or even something simple like what they did that morning before school, the kids give me a wonderful window into what their lives are like. What makes them laugh? What makes them sad? What is so important that they have to sprint across the playground to tell me?
One of my youngest students called me the “book teacher,” which sounds like the perfect job to me!
Tell me, do you have any favorite picture books? How about the children in your life? What are their favorites and why do you think so?