Saturday, June 3, 2017

Writing and Photography Awards

Writing and Photography Awards

Some of the awards I have received are for my books while others have been for poetry and photography.

Writing Awards  and Photography Awards

2017 Creative Women of Oklahoma Award for Poetry (Sunsets and Haiku) from Gamma State  
         of  Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.

2017  Poetry Award   First Place  Gold  Yukon Senior Games
          Short Story award   Second Place  Silver   Yukon Senior Games

         Photography Awards  First Place  Gold  for Nature photography  Yukon Senior Games
                                             First Place  Gold  for Every day life  photography  Yukon Senior

2016 Poetry Award  First Place in Poetry  Yukon Senior Games

2015 Poetry Award  First Place in Poetry    Yukon Senior Games
         Photography   First Place                     Yukon Senior Games {Nature}

2013 Oklahoma Writer's Federation Inc.  Best Juvenile Book  (Ages 2-19) for The Great Elephant Escape

2004    International Reading Award/Children's Choice Award  for Grady's in the Silo and
            Oklahoma Center of the Book  for Grady's in the Silo

Creative Women of Oklahoma Award in Poetry

Creative Women of Oklahoma Award in Poetry

Today I received the Creative Women of Oklahoma Award in Poetry from Gamma State of  Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for my Sunsets and Haiku book. It's a beautiful award and was presented at their state conference in Oklahoma City. I enjoy writing haiku, and I love taking pictures of sunsets. My book was published by Doodle and Peck Pub. Co.

Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is a professional organization of women educators based in Austin, TX. It promotes personal growth and excellence in education, and there are thirty-six chapters in Oklahoma.

My friend, Hannah Harrison, also attended today. She received the Creative Women of Oklahoma Award for Illustrations. Below is a picture of Hannah and me. And, a picture of the award I received.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Grady County Outstanding Readers Celebration

Grady County Outstanding Readers Celebration

      I recently spoke at the Grady County Outstanding Reader's Celebration. That particular evening, over 250 students representing all the schools in Grady Co. were given reading certificates and recognized at the Activity Center on the Chickasha High School campus for their reading ability.

     These young students were dressed up and very excited. I don't often see evening celebrations like this one. The students, their parents, and grandparents celebrated their reading achievements that evening.
     There were signs that these boys and girls were good readers. They were quiet, focused, and disciplined during my presentation. They weren't talkative, noisy, or running around in the auditorium. Sitting in the audience were parents, grandparents, and teachers who were proud of each child's success.

     I didn't get any pictures that evening. I wish I would have done so. It was truly a great evening.

    Congratulations to all those wonderful readers in Grady County. You really are outstanding!

Introducing Scanner at a Variety of Schools

Introducing Scanner at a Variety of Schools

Introducing Scanner to young students has been great this semester. The book arrived in February, and by March, David Barrow, the illustrator, and I, were busy with many school visits. Some schools were so big that we only introduced Scanner to just one grade. Sometimes, grades Pre-K to 4th grade were included in the presentation. Those schools were smaller, but still very enthusiastic about hearing Scanner's story.
Usually I am asked to do an author's visit alone. I haven't been able to work with any of my illustrators since they live so far away. This time, David Barrow, lives nearby, and we're able to do a team visit. I usually cover introducing the two of us, and tell a little bit about publishing a book. Then I read my book. Next, David tells a little bit about his illustrations, and draws a picture or two for the students. They love it!

You Tube has a short one minute trailer on Scanner. Please check it out.        Scanner trailer

Here are some pictures of schools that we visited.

I'm just beginning the program. I'm talking about how a manuscript becomes a book. Mr. Barrow is waiting for his part of the program. He'll show how he illustrated the book, and he'll draw a few illustrations.
I'm showing students my "Scanner" dog.
Getting ready to read "Scanner" to some classes.
An interpreter for the deaf is also telling Scanner's story.

Just reading about Scanner in this picture.
Everyone seems to be listening intently to Scanner's story.
I always enjoy visiting this school. They created a great banner for David and me.

Great group of students. They were wonderful listeners and asked many questions about publishing, writing, and illustrating.
We had four grades in there, and they were so quiet. Good questions, too.

The Oklahoma Land Run

         The Oklahoma Land Run book was published in 2009. In the book, a young boy named Jesse wants to help his father stake a claim during the first of five land runs in Oklahoma. The setting is around the Yukon-El Reno area. Jesse's father has sustained an injury and cannot drive the wagon to search for land. He also doesn't want his son driving against the men who are set on claiming land any way they can get it. And, they have to watch out for "sooners". Pa has to make the decision to let his son drive for him or give up his chances to stake a claim.
       I'm often asked to come to schools during April and read my book. Some schools choose to have land runs, and the children often dress up as pioneers, sit on the ground to eat their lunches, and play a few old-fashioned games. If older students are available, then families are formed, and the families sit together to eat. There's usually a land run, sack races, and often three-legged races. One school has a group of square dancers come in and show students how to square dance. The school also had a trick roper.
      My presentation usually includes a selection of items from around the 1889-1907 time frame. A few are replicas, but others are authentic.
     I usually have some quilts, a rug beater, a washboard, some kitchen items, lye soap, a few pieces of children's clothing, feed sacks,  drinking gourds, etc. I also emphasize that there wasn't any electricity for plugging in computers, washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, televisions, etc, and, sometimes, no running water. It usually takes about 45 minutes to read my land run book and present my "show and tell" to students.

Below is a picture at a school that shows me reading to students. In the background among the school's library books are tables with some of my "show and tell" items. It's always a fun presentation.

Reading my Oklahoma Land Run book to third grade students.

I'm showing some of my land run items. On the table are "sad irons", a small churn, a "hand mixer", gourds used for drinking, old glass jars, etc.
A link to a You Tube segment I made about my Oklahoma Land Run book.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Quite an Honor for Me

                                                         Quite an Honor for Me

           On March 3, 2017, I went to Riverside Elem. in El Reno, OK. I planned to read my new book, Scanner, to the students in grades Pre-K through 4. I knew some of the students because I had been a teacher/librarian at the school for many years. My friend and illustrator, David Barrow, was with me. I noticed a few teachers in other grades, as well as a few friends I'd worked with over the years, listening as I read my new book. I was glad to see all of them.
          This is a school that didn't have much of a library when I first started teaching there many years ago. The books had color coded tape on them to distinguish the reading levels. There were no spine labels with the Dewey system on them. I soon discovered that teachers and parents had donated the books, and everyone had guessed at the reading levels. There was no card catalog.
         Many schools across the state as well as the nation had this type of "library". I taught fourth grade at the time, but started writing grants hoping to get some money for improving the library. I don't know how many grants I wrote, but I do remember a few. There were three grants (each for $10,000) that enabled us to buy a computer, a software system, and new books so that we could update our library. We now had a catalog for teachers and students to use, and had a check-out system in place.
         I wrote grants for books given to schools from the American Library Assn. (around $2,000 to $4,000). We were very fortunate to receive grants twice. I wrote many grants for the library when the Oklahoma Career grants existed.  We received many thousands of dollars in books, software, and videos on career topics. We were able to purchase many science and social items (library media) with grant money from Title funds and other grants that I wrote.
        The library also received a grant from the Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom program. Our library continued to improve as the grant money, books, and media increased.

        Each grant made the library a better place, and children began coming to the library more often. That's what we had hoped would happen.

        I tell you this to let you know that when I walked into the Riverside Library on Friday, I saw a beautiful library with many shelves housing many great looking books. It had new furniture and carpet. Mrs. Harmon, who was my assistant, is now in charge of the library, and she's done a marvelous job making the library so inviting to students and teachers.
         On Friday, just as I was to talk about my latest book, Scanner, I was presented with a plaque to go above the entrance to the library.  The plaque reads:

                               Welcome to the UNA BELLE TOWNSEND Honorary Library
           In Recognition of Her Lifelong Commitment to Children and Reading.

         It was an unexpected honor. My goal had been to try to make the Riverside library the best library in the area. I hope it continues to be the best.
        Children and reading will always go hand in hand. I hope that I made a difference whether I was in the classroom, in the library, or working with students who just needed a little more instruction on how to read.
         I want to thank the Riverside School Board, Superintendent Garner, and the faculty and staff for recognizing my efforts to make a difference in a child's life.
        They say it takes a village to raise a child. I was just one in that village helping to teach children how to read, but I loved it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dogs Who Listen to Children Read

My newest book, Scanner, was recently read by a little girl to a dog who frequently listens to children read.

Dogs who listen to children read are remarkable. I watched a group of children read to four different dogs. The dogs are therapy dogs who, not only listen to children read, but also visit nursing homes and hospitals.

Both the dogs and the children were amazing. The dogs are trained to sit and listen as children read to them. It doesn't matter whether the child is a good reader or not. The dogs don't judge the child's reading ability or the way they pronounce each word.

Children who might not want to read in a regular classroom, eagerly read to the dogs. Many will bring in their favorite books to share with them. If they read slowly, stutter, or mispronounce words, it doesn't matter to the dogs. I also noticed that many children petted or patted the dogs as they read. They seemed to really be bonding as the child read and the dog listened.

It's a great program. I've seen 4-H students working with dogs who listen to children read. Teachers have had dogs in their classrooms working with students. Many shy students will read to an animal when they won't read to anyone else.

I'm glad that Scanner has a purpose and a job at his school.

While at a career event in Dibble, I met two dogs who listen to children read. I read my book, Scanner, to one of them.
Below are some children reading to dogs.

This little dog really seems to be listening to the story.

Two dogs listening to two boys read.

Sometimes it's important to get to know the dog before reading to it.

This dog is checking out the Scanner book. Poor Scanner needs a home.

The librarian in the story is worried about Scanner.

Someone is enjoying the book as she reads.
This little dog likes the story he's hearing from a reader.

This dog is concentrating on the story.

Scanner's made a mess. He just might get in trouble.
A "paws" before reading some more.

Sometimes the best way to read is to get on your knees. The dog seems alert to the situation.

Ready, set, read!