Monday, January 24, 2011

Educational Markets for Children's Writers. Thanks, Evelyn!

Award winning author and puzzle creator has done it again! Evelyn B. Christensen updates and posts the most recent educational markets for children's writers. Why? Because she's not only a wonderful writer---she's a spectacular person!

Please visit her website at

Thanks again, Evelyn (o;

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Found You, Mrs. Hopfinger!

Several years ago I spoke with a teacher who changed a little girl's life---mine. It took me more than 20 years to track her down. I was never going to give up because I needed to thank her.

"Is this the Mrs. Hopfinger that taught at Fullbright Elementary School," I asked. When she said "Yes it is," I burst into tears. "I found you, Mrs. Hopfinger! I found you," I blubbered. She probably thought I was a telemarketer with some strange new technique to keep someone on the line. She didn't hang up. When I told her I was one of her former students she said with delight, "Oh, darling---is it really?"

rs. Barbara Hopfinger was my early elementary grade teacher during a time when something life-shattering turned my world upside down. To me, Mrs. Hopfinger was bigger than life. She was the Statue of Liberty. The President of the United States. The Seven Wonders of the World. She was more fascinating, delightful, and full of life than Ms. Frizzle in the Magic School Bus could ever be! Barbara Hopfinger was a vibrant and committed educator. She absolutely loved teaching---but more than that, she loved the children she taught. I was one of those fortunate children.

I will never write about the dreadful circumstances of my past, but it is vital that I write about how God brought this wonderful, loving teacher who became a life-preserver, to a little girl drowning in a sea of emotional pain. I do this simply to honor her.

There were times when I stayed in class during recess. She knew what I was going through and tried her best to help me through it. I can still picture her big smile and that red lipstick I liked so well, as she held out her arms for me to come to her. I sat on her lap and she hugged me, much as a mother would. I felt safe. I felt loved. Mrs. Hopfinger spoke soothingly and with conviction as she talked to me. I'm sure this beautiful teacher had no idea she was giving me a gift I would cherish for the rest of my life. She convinced me that I mattered.

When she told me I was smart, although I felt stupid---I believed her. When she told me I was special in so many ways, although I felt broken and worthless---I believed her. She even called me pretty. Now, that was a stretch! I had a space between my big front teeth, a home-perm gone bad (every time!), and freckles the size of Mars on my nose. Mrs. Hopfinger obviously saw past any imperfections in her children. Instead, she saw what they were capable of doing and becoming. She saw our potential and made us believe it, too. Mrs. Hopfinger allowed me to believe that I was more than a broken little life, and she simply wouldn't allow me to stay there.

Do you find it strange that a teacher could have such a positive influence on someone so young, and in such a short time? I don't. I've experienced it. I carried the affirmations she gave me in my heart as I grew. They were like seeds that took root. At times when there was no one to talk to, I remembered my beautiful teacher and friend. In my mind I pictured a fragile little girl in the arms of a wise teacher---and I would say "If Mrs. Hopfinger believed it, then it's true."

A teacher can make a MONUMENTAL change in a child's life. I wonder how many others remember her the way I do. I surely can't be alone.

Today I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, a volunteer Red Cross nurse, and a published writer. I do believe it was the grace of God that brought Mrs. Hopfinger into my young life so many years ago, and I finally had the chance to tell her that.

efore we hung up I said now that I'd found her, my next book would be dedicated to her. There WILL be a next book in honor of beautiful Mrs. Barbara Hopfinger, from the the little girl who still loves her.

c 2009 Sheryl Ann Crawford

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Magnify the Hope for Children

Horrible things happen every day and everywhere. The harsh reality is that at some point each child will become aware that life isn't all sunshine, hugs, and playgrounds.

Families are struggling to stay in their homes and put food on the table. The news tells of child abductions, murders, divorce, deadly tornadoes, earthquakes and flood's. Can we still offer hope to children in this kind of world? Of course we can, and we MUST!

My hairdresser tells me that in spite of the struggling economy, his business hasn't dwindled. In fact, it's UP. When I asked him why this was he replied, "Women want to feel good about themselves when they don't feel good about anything else. They may have to eat beans and rice to afford the hairdresser, but by making themselves look better they FEEL better."

Children need to feel better in difficult times. If some of our writing is for the secular market, can we offer any kind of hope when we write about days at the zoo, pets, friendship, love, family, or just plain silly books to make them laugh? Absolutely! Those wonderful, fun, precious, thoughtful, and even silly things exist even when horrible things exist right alongside them. HOPE is still there but you, the writer, may need to help them find it. Magnify the hope for children who cannot see it.

Because I'm a Christian, my hope is in the Son of God and His promise for eternal life. That is a hope that never fades. If you write for the Christian children's market it's obvious where your hopeful words will lead. What a privilege and calling it is to write words of God's hope for children!

Some books for children offer hope in Christ to those dealing with topics like divorce, death, moving and leaving a best friend, going to a new school, fears of all kinds, losing a pet, and other harsh realities of life.

These are some HOPEFUL Christian books on my bookshelves:

Someday Heaven by Larry Libby
Someone Awesome by Larry Libby
Someone I Loved Died by Christine Harder Tangvold
Someday We'll Play in Heaven by Shawn Alyne Strannigan
My Little Prayers (WORD Publishing. I was blessed to be a contributing author)
Psalms for a Child's Heart (my first book)

When you write for the secular or Christian market, write about good, wholesome topics for children---stories with values and messages to lift the heart. Write to help a child through emotional pain, loneliness, or fear in a frightening and unstable world.

Just imagine---God may use your book or even a simple magazine piece to give comfort and hope to a child whose heart is crying. Bless a child and MAGNIFY the HOPE!

c 2009 Sheryl Ann Crawford