Hull Jackson teacher and author Konni Jo Bryant releases second children's book
Metro Schools teacher Konni Jo Bryant is an author and motivational speaker who shares her real-life experiences both as a teacher and mother. A graduate of Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology, she has taught in California and Tennessee. She is a prekindergarten teacher at Hull Jackson Elementary Montessori Magnet.
Bryant recently released her second children's book, "Macaroni! Because saying, 'Cheese' is just too predictable." We asked Bryant about the book and her inspiration for writing in the interview below:
Q: What is your new book about?
A: My new book, "Macaroni! Because saying, 'Cheese' is just too predictable" is about Mrs. Potter who accidentally dresses up for Halloween a day early. Her loveable class of kids helps their favorite teacher feel not so silly about being mixed up by mixing themselves up when she's not looking.
Q: What or who inspired it?
A: This particular book was inspired by my colleague, Anna Sorenson, and the students of Camarillo Academy of Progressive Education in Camarillo, California who had something similar happen to them. Mrs. Sorenson showed up in mismatched boots one day to teach class and her sweet class of second graders showed her so much compassion that it touched my heart. I incorporated a Halloween theme because I'm always looking for holiday books which also teach kindness and empathy.
Q: What do you see as the major themes in your book?
A: The major themes in this book and "Little Miss Tattletale," my first book about a girl who tattles so much she grows a tail, are kindness, compassion, helping one another, responsibility, and empathy. My books are based on real-life situations and written with a sense of humor to hopefully convey lessons and skills which the children can use in their daily lives. I try to use as many high frequency words as possible and also introduce some appropriate vocabulary words to spark some good conversations in the classroom.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: I began writing as a young child growing up in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. My family moved to Nashville in 1976 where I attended Stratton Elementary, Neely's Bend Jr. High, and Madison High School. My writing was shelved while I went to college and raised my own two children. However, when I went through a divorce it became necessary to write a lot of legal documents. I was a great writer, but I wanted to focus on love, happiness, and humor so I once again found the joy in writing children's stories. I wanted to write meaningful, moral-laden stories for my students and own daughter and son. I was telling my kids everyday that they could be anything they wanted to be and it was my turn to heed my own advice.
Q: Did you always want to become an author?
A: I always wanted to be a writer I guess. I write myself texts or emails all the time of story starters. I'm glad that the creative juices have begun to flow again. Being around young students and seeing the world through their eyes gives me a new found sense of wonder.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: Personally I love to read anything by Marianne Williamson right now. She's a great spiritual writer and mentor for me. Her "Spiritual Lessons for Weight Loss" changed my life. Replacing fear with love is a walk I take each day and try to show those around me. Most recently I also have revisited her book, "The Law of Divine Compensation." I can't get enough of children's literature, my favorite children's author is Patricia Pollaco.
Q: What is your advice to anyone who wants to become a professional writer?
A: My advice to anyone thinking about writing is, "Do it!" Jot down your ideas. Write out those paragraphs while they're fresh in your mind. I have stories I began years ago that I'm so thankful I began when they were fresh in my mind. I would have forgotten them otherwise when the hectic pace of life caught up with me. You can always go back and edit. Keep your ears and eyes open. There is always something fabulous happening in your classroom.