Mymcbooks Interview Author Karen Shragg
Karen has many loves, but most include nature and teaching about nature. As a teacher and director of Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield she is able to work at her passion for making the world a more sustainable place by exposing children to how nature works. Writing, however, is a way to reach more children than can be reached in the many programs she teaches along with her fellow naturalists. One of her great motivations for writing is the thought that while teaching a pond study class in Minnesota, someone could be reading one of her books in another part of the country.
Karen completed a doctorate in critical pedagogy from the Universityof St. Thomasin Minneapolis because of her interest in social justice. Her first children’s book, A Solstice Tree for Jenny (Prometheus Books, 2001), is a reflection of her desire to publish children’s books which provide understanding and common ground between all people.
Her most recent books are written with her close friend and fellow naturalist Lee Ann Landstrom: Nature’s Yucky! 2, the Desert Southwest (Mountain Press, 2007) and Nature’s Yucky, Gross Stuff that Helps Nature Work (Mountain Press, 2003).
Other books Karen has written or co-written with Stan Tekiela: Plantworks (Adventure Publications, 1991), Start Mushrooming (Adventure Publications, 1993), Nature Smart (Adventure Publications, 1995), and Tree Stories, A Collection of Extraordinary Encounters (cowritten with Warren Jacob and published by Sunshine Press). Her poem “Think Like a Tree” appeared in the anthology The Tree That Time Built in 2009.
In addition Karen conducts children’s literature seminars in order to communicate with potential authors on how to focus on the message contained in their manuscripts, (NAI National Interpreter’s Association Conference 2002, 2003, and the Children’s Literature Conference, University of St. Thomas, 2001.)
Karen Shragg is the author of The Eric Hoffer Award winning book Lucy’s Hero: Remembering Paul Wellstone and Nature’s Yucky! 2
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read? The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaws
What was your favorite children’s book? A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’engle
What were your earliest memories of writing? In third grade I told my mother I wanted to be a writer
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? Both, words do just pop into my head AND I am encouraged by those in my life
Do you generally get a story idea first or does the main character develop first? I believe in a process I call MESSAGE WRITING, so I start from what I want to say
What inspired you to write Lucy’s Hero Remembering Paul Wellstone? I knew and worked for Paul Wellstone, I wanted his legacy to continue to inspire children
Are you working on a new book? Yes. I just finished Elisia and the Maya Forest Garden , but it is searching for a publisher and Nature’s Yucky 3 Animals of the Eastern Region Is due out from Mountain Press later this year.
What is the most difficult part of writing? The most difficult part of writing is carving out the time to do it when you feel creative
Do you write full time or do you still have a day job? I run a nature center full time which is my other passion
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I have had few bad ones, luckily, but I consider them as feedback and try to do better if I feel the critique is valid.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? I hope they will see that we all can make a difference like Paul believed.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? Lynne Cherry, I love her work and Eve Bunting, I have spoken to them both, but not dined with them
What author inspires you the most and why? I love Byrd Baylor’s books and collect them all.. her perspective to love nature speaks to me, I’d like to dine with her as well.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? Every once and a while I try to get away to a hotel, lock myself in there, order room service and write write write… it’s too distracting to write at home
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? Look at a book’s message, what is it saying? Is that what you want for your child? Be sure to discuss it afterwards. ( example The Salamander Room, has a message that animals need to be left in the wild)
What advice you would give to new writers? My advice is to write from your heart and be clear about what you want to say through the voice of your characters.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Yes: I believe that children’s literature is a wonderful tool for introducing children to new ideas and concepts without lecturing them. It is important to encourage reading to them and by them Because it helps to build their vocabulary and other learning skills in ways that computer learning does not. I try to put books out into the world that parents and children can read over and over. Again and still get new things out of them.
Thank you for this interview.
Thanks so much
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Book Given in 2013: 330
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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