This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome Sue Kotchman. A former educator and school administrator, Kotchman continued her passion for education after her retirement by writing children's books, including Sam, With Love,From Grandma and With Love, From Grandpa,and Mason's This and That Day. Her newest book, School Dazed, was released in January, 2019. Kotchman was our featured writer on September 3, 2016.
When I retired from the Pinellas County School District, I left behind thirty-two years of working with students, teachers, parents, grandparents and wonderful colleagues. My last stint, as an elementary school principal, was probably the most challenging, yet wonderfully rewarding, position I held, with the exception of teaching young children to read and write. My retirement was sudden, due to an unexpected brain bleed which miraculously healed, leaving me with a second chance at life, a grateful attitude toward God and a new purpose to fulﬁll. I knew my purpose was to continue to promote literacy and use my abilities to reach young children in a new way – write books for children that tell realistic stories, through characters they can relate to and situations they often encounter in school and daily living.
Everything is constantly moving and changing around in our world and I needed to roll with the changes. BUT some of those changes I ﬁnd very threatening to our young people. As I continue to do research, I’m alarmed with amount of time our young children are spending on digital media and other screen time devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics has posted articles mentioning this, and there are dangers of our children being challenged with sleep problems and obesity as a result. I was speaking to a colleague a few days ago, and she mentioned her niece had to be taken to an addiction counselor because she could not put down her phone! She actually had withdrawal issues if the phone wasn't at her side. I was on a cruise ship and I witnessed a toddler on an i-pad, refusing to listen to her parent’s directions because she was busy! I know we all see this in the restaurants, as well.
I remember my mom using dinnertime as a great communication session with our siblings. They weren’t always pleasant conversations, but we learned to speak with a variety of vocabulary words, make eye contact and become active listeners to one another. These are very important social behaviors our young children are missing because they aren’t given enough opportunities when the media devices are in their hands. How rude is it when you are at a checkout register and the person is gabbing on their phone? Wouldn’t it be great to make eye contact with the clerk, give them a smile and ask them how their day is going? I think everyone loves a good compliment and a smile. Research also states eight to twelve year-olds are spending an average of over four hours a day on screen media. Some of this is school work done at home, but I’m a strong believer that our children need to read, read and read more, to keep their minds healthy and develop their ability to communicate with others in a healthy manner. I hate to think, when the power goes down during a hurricane or storm, our young children won’t be able to ﬁnd solace in reading a good book.
All of this brings me to why I write heartwarming books, with lovely illustrations, for children. Each of my books provide deep meaning with value for life, and the realistic characters portray ordinary young people our children will relate to. Mason’s This and That Day is the story of a fun-loving young boy who is easily distracted and often overwhelmed with the decisions he has to make. He can’t seem to focus, but oh what fun he has. It is recommended for ages 6-9. My newest book School Dazed, is a story about three classmates, coming from diverse backgrounds, who wonder if they will survive another school year of stress and disappointments – only to discover life is not always as it seems. School Dazed is a great read for the ﬁrst day of elementary school and reread as new students move to a new classroom. A new teacher, as well, will love this book, because it actually has examples of classroom set-ups and a discipline plan. This book is also ideal for a jump start lesson to teach poetry and descriptive writing to children. Learning and Loving It is an activity book containing ideas to enrich stories, as well as art activities to compliment them.
For more information, visit Sue Kotchman Books on Facebook or www.suekotchman.storenvy.com