Some inklings come and go, but others you just can’t shake. One Tucson-born teacher is running wild with an idea of her own. Between long school days, teaching classes at a local dance studio, doing yoga, and planning a wedding, one might think Grace McCourt couldn’t find a spare minute. But, the sApr 24, 2018
Some inklings come and go, but others you just can’t shake. One Tucson-born teacher is running wild with an idea of her own.
Between long school days, teaching classes at a local dance studio, doing yoga, and planning a wedding, one might think Grace McCourt couldn’t find a spare minute. But, the second-grade teacher from Horseshoe Trails Elementary in the Cave Creek Unified School District found time to sneak in a new task — she’s writing a children’s book. Although it’s always been a personal goal, it wasn’t until recently that she committed, settled in, and let the creative juices flow.
Before moving to Phoenix, McCourt taught in Tucson for two years. Currently she’s in her sixth year and says her approach to crafting the zoo-themed story was easier done from the mindset of a teacher.
“When I was writing it, I was thinking like a teacher. The story is about animals at a zoo writing persuasive letters to the zookeeper, Larry,” McCourt explains. “Larry is building a new enclosure in the zoo. Each animal is trying to convince him to give the new enclosure to them.”
The intended audience is elementary school students, teachers, and parents. While readers can laugh and enjoy the book itself, they will also learn about the art of persuasion.
“The reason I came up with the persuasive letter writing idea is because I teach a unit on this to my second graders. I always like to integrate stories and picture books because it keeps the kiddos interested and engaged in the lesson. I plan on sharing lesson plans that are centered around this book for teachers to use in their classrooms,” she explains.
While McCourt doesn’t consider herself an artist, a college friend and educator peer is making the story come to life through illustrations. According to the University of Arizona alumna, illustrations will be done in July and she plans to self-publish as soon she can fund the project.
“I wrote the book before even thinking about possibly publishing. When I finished, I sent it to my family to see what they thought and they gave me the idea to self-publish. From there, I started doing a lot of research on self-publishing versus using a publishing company,” she says. “There are so many books, articles, and podcasts about self-publishing and writing books. There is so much to learn.”
As is with the creative process, the journey is just as important as the work.
For any educators that might want to write a book, McCourt says: just start writing. She suggests planning ahead for the financial investment, writing for a niche area that hasn’t yet been tapped, throwing fear to the wind, and learning about the process from start to finish.