Women’s History Month is celebrated throughout the whole month and we are thrilled to share with you this guest post by author Vivian Kirkfield.
SKY-DIVING TO SUCCESS
THROUGH THE SLIDING GLASS DOORS OF PICTURE BOOKS
I didn’t have to worry about food or shelter or safety. And growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City, I learned early on that people came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I didn’t need books to introduce me to different cultures – I just played with the neighborhood kids – their family backgrounds spanned the globe.
But for many children, books provide the mirrors and windows needed to develop a positive view of themselves, and an awareness and appreciation for others who may look, sound, or act differently.
Always a fan of picture books, I read them with my kindergarten pupils every day. Picture books were an important tool as I strove to share kindness and compassion while inspiring curiosity and a love for books and reading. Then I left to raise my own family. I thought my ‘working’ career was over. But something happened that changed everything.
My son took me skydiving for my 64th birthday!
Falling at 120 miles per hour! Deploying the parachute! And then, gently floating down with the world a patchwork quilt below. But the best part of the experience was when my feet touched the ground, I knew that if I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I could probably do anything.
Empowered by that experience, I jumped into the world of writing for children. I took classes. Joined kid-lit groups online. Started blogging. Participated in challenges and contests. I wrote and revised and submitted. And I learned that becoming an author was a bit like making a pizza. I needed to take certain steps – I needed to use certain ingredients.
I call them the 5Ps.
I truly believe that if people embrace these five Ps, they will succeed in building their dreams into reality. This works for children as well. Want to excel in math? Become a better soccer player? Learn to dance hip hop? It takes passion, preparation, practice, patience, and perseverance – no matter how young or old you are. And believe me, you are never too old to follow your dreams. My first published book launched when I was 72-years-old!
But how can we inspire children to have hopes and dreams and plans of what might be? How can we help them find their passion? Because once children find their passion, they can follow it to a life of purpose. And people who feel their lives have purpose are people who often make the world a better place. Picture books can provide the sliding glass door through which a young reader’s curiosity is sparked and their desire to learn more about something is ignited. That’s why I love books that show children the accomplishments of others who came before.
In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some of my favorite picture books about women (and girls) who accepted the challenge to walk a difficult path to make the world a better place. I hope they spark your young readers’ imaginations and start them on a journey to explore all that is possible for them.
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, and visiting kidlit friends all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the picturesque town of Bedford, New Hampshire. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. Her nonfiction narratives bring history alive for young readers and her picture books have garnered starred reviews and accolades including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection.
To connect with Vivian and learn more about her books: