Plainview's Claudia Siebenhuener turned a child's "teachable moment" into something to be taught to children everywhere.
What began with her daughter's concern over a school test grade was transformed into a children's book, written as a way of teaching the importance of asking questions.
The result: “But What If I Don’t Understand,” has been published and set Siebenhuener on a new career path. She discussed her recent success and her new plans recently: This is the interview:
Q. How did the book come about?
A. My daughter, Danielle, inspired me to write a book. When she came home from school one day upset because she didn’t do well on a test, I decided to write a story for her to read based on the conversation we had after she showed me her test. She is, and always was, an avid reader and I knew she would enjoy reading a story about herself and hoped that my story would reinforce the important message I wanted her to learn about asking questions in class. She enjoyed my story so much, she told me she “wished it was a real book that could be bought in a bookstore.” That’s what made me look into having my story published.
Q. You recently read your book to the What is it like reading YOUR book to children? What kind of reactions do you see in the children as you read the story?
A. Reading my book ...was an amazing experience. Each child was extremely attentive and very interested in hearing me explain why I wrote the book and the very important lesson it teaches. A few of them admitted that they, too, were sometimes afraid to raise their hands in class and/or admit to not always understanding a particular lesson. After reading my book to the children, I was very impressed by the number of children who eagerly raised their hands to ask me various questions. The entire student body received a signed copy of the 3-D version of my book (equipped with 3-D glasses), a bookmark and activity sheets that I created myself! The school library also received a complimentary copy of the regular (non 3-D) version of my book.
Q. Do you plan to write another book? Do you have an idea what your next book will be about?
A. Yes! I definitely plan on writing more books! My next book will most likely be about the fear and anxiety Danielle felt on the first day at her new school. It will be another book that deals with a very common issue many children experience and, like “But What if I Don’t Understand?” will teach a very important lesson.
Q. Have you always loved writing?
A. Yes, I always loved reading and writing. I never imagined, however, that I would be a published author. It gives me such great joy hearing a parent and/or children tell me how much they enjoy reading my book.
Q. Where you trained to be a writer?
Q. What was the most difficult part of writing a book?
A. Writing “But What if I Don’t Understand?” wasn’t difficult at all. I wrote about the conversation between my daughter and I and it just naturally flowed.
Q. I understand you work in a school? Is it hard to juggle the demands of a family, a job and be an author?
A. Yes, I am currently employed with the Syosset Central School district part-time. It is sometimes difficult to juggle the demands of a family, job and being an author, but I get a lot of help and support from my husband, Douglas, and my two children, Danielle and Mark.
Q. What messages do you hope children will get out of your book?
A. ...That it is perfectly normal to not always understand what is being taught in class and that they are not alone as everyone has faced this obstacle at some point in their lives. No child should ever be afraid to ask questions and/or ask their teachers, parents, older siblings or any grown-ups in their family for help. No one will ever be angry with them or make fun of them for not understanding something.
You can read more about Claudia Siebenhuener, order her book, schedule her to visit your school, organization, or just keep updated on her latest progress at http://www.cpbooks.synthasite.com.