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Bobbie's Message 2017

by Crabtree Books | Mar 20, 2017
Dear Librarians and Teachers,

Although I've been an author for 40 years, I think of myself mainly as a teacher and am constantly looking for new ways to stimulate young minds through my books. Sometimes, according to my editors, I go a bit too far, but I also did while I was teaching. I wasn't very good at following rules and made "happy kids" my top priority. I would probably be a perfect teacher in Finland, where happy children result in very successful students. Students in Finland experience warmth, collaboration, encouragement, and time to have fun in supportive school communities. 

As an author, I met many students who used my books in school. I found their questions fascinating.

When I was nine years old, I was a refugee who could not speak a word of English. I was in fourth grade when I left Hungary but was put at the back of a first-grade class and ignored by the teacher. I have never felt so worthless in my life! The experience of being ignored played a huge role in my career as a teacher. From my first teaching days, I knew that encouraging my students to feel happy was essential to their learning. 

Dressing in costumes added the surprise factor to my visits. At one school, I pretended to be an historic character instead of the real me. The students spent the day arguing about who I really was - even after I changed my clothes.

I taught Special Education in the Bahamas and English to adults in Germany, but my favorite job as an educator was teaching ESL to over 100 immigrant children, who came to my class in small groups throughout the week. I created projects that were challenging and fun. We made a huge mural of the Arctic that covered the hallway of the school, put on plays and fashion shows, and served multicultural gourmet meals. The part of me that was shoved to the back of the first-grade classroom wanted to make sure my students wouldn't have to feel that kind of rejection! Instead of being invisible, they became the focus of attention at the school, showing off their intelligence, creativity, and many talents. 

This photo appears in my book 'How and why do people copy animals?'
Pictures such as this make children question and learn in creative ways. (See Series)

My experiences in education laid the groundwork for my career as an author. To create my first books, I traveled to various historic communities to learn about life in the 18th and 19th centuries. After the books were published, I had a lot of fun talking to students about colonial and pioneer life, dressed in the costumes of those periods. Since then, I've written about 900 books on every subject that fascinated me—including history, geography, science, language arts, cooking, health, and culture. 

Writing this book opened my eyes to both animal and human interactions.
(See Series)

People often ask me how I know so much about so many subjects. I don't! I actually love writing about subjects that I know very little about, such as symbiosis, and get very excited when I start researching. I research all my own pictures, as well, and choose those that I feel will motivate students to ask questions and learn. Students remember information that stimulates their thinking through fun facts and activities. Using surprise also brings their brains to attention. Presenting students with a variety of challenges results in more brain pathways and greater speed in their brain signals. At my age, I also need to keep my brain pathways active and up to speed, so making my books fun helps me as much as it helps my readers!