Episode 59 – August Authors and Building a Legacy

In this episode we discuss some writers whose birthdays are in August. Then we discuss building a legacy for our children.

Please Note: We had some pretty terrible sound issues on this episode. I almost didn’t post it because of that, but I want you to have the links and resources shared in the episode. Please excuse the sound problems. We are so sorry.

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. This is August, and I wanted to start doing something different with each month. We’re going to try to have an author interview each month, this year. And then I also wanted to take the time each month to introduce those authors who have birthdays in that month. For August we have a few authors, and I want to share some of their books. I’m not covering, of course, every author who has a birthday at all August, but I chose three of the authors in August who have birthdays and have interesting books for us to read.

The first one I want to mention is Karen Hesse. And she has a great book called Come On, Rain. And it is such a great story. You know, those summers where there’s just no rain in this story, there’s been no rain for three weeks. Her mother’s tomato plants are drooping, and everybody’s just suffering in the heat. And she’s like, “Come on rain.” And she sees some clouds and she’s like, “Come on rain.” And, and very excited, and she wants it to rain. She wants to put on her bathing suit so that she can play in the water and get cooled off. Her friend comes over and has on her bathing suit. And so they put on their bathing suits and go outside, and it does start raining. And they play in the rain. But the wonderful part of this story is then the moms of all these girls, (her friends, all get together, out there and play in the rain), but the moms join them. And it’s like a celebration abandon, a celebration of dancing in the rain and enjoying that relief after the long weeks of heat and dry weather. And to see the moms come out and dance and enjoy the rain, just like the daughters–those kinds of moments , as we think back over our childhood, those kinds of moments where we got to see our moms have fun and be silly and enjoy life are precious. And for our kids to see us in the same way. I remember one time we were in the pool and I was just in one of those fun moods and was just being so silly with my kids and playing and splashing and having a great time. And we had water guns and all kinds of stuff. And it was like, they just looked at me like, “Whoa, what’s wrong with mom?” Because we tend to be as moms so serious because we’re always trying to help our kids, trying to put out fires between, you know, siblings, and trying to deal with all of the household, things that come our way. Plus if we have a job on top of that, and we just can get bogged down in the every day life responsibilities. To have those times that are exciting and fun and silly and carefree are a blessing for our children to see. And so that’s why I love this book. I think it’s so much fun that they celebrate that together.

And then another author, and this author is quite prolific. He has over a hundred picture books out and his name is, and I hope I pronounce it right, Charles Ghigna. He’s the one who wrote the book that I shared recently called Once Upon Another Time that I love so much, it’s a very special book. And then he has a lot of books that are geared for the very young child, such as I See Spring, I See Summer. And then he’s got some dealing with litter and problems like that like Pick Up the Park, one called Raindrops Fall All Around. Recycling Is Fun and Pick Up the Park are both two books that teach taking care of the earth and being responsible. He has one called Little Seeds, Windy Day in Spring. So he does a lot of books about conservation, about the seasons, then he has some like The Wonders of the Color Wheel, Shapes Are Everywhere and other of the basic skills that our children need to learn. And then he has one called The Alphabet Parade, which is really cute. So a lot of his books are like board books or the level for the very young children. And then some of his other books are beautiful picture books, but he has so many books. He’s, like I said, he’s written over 100 books. Some of the books that are for a little bit older elementary, he has one that is sponsored by Animal Planet, Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals. And it is written by him and Animal Planet. So it’s a really cool book, and he also is a poet and has several poetry books and books about writing poetry or writing in general that are very interesting. So he has a lot to look at. He would be one that would be fun to check out as many of his books as you can. Several of them are available to read for free on Amazon.

And the last August author I want to share with you is one from the eighties. A lot of his books are hard to find, but there’s a few that are out there. And they are very different because they were geared toward an eighties kid and eighties audience. But that’s Arthur Yorinks, but he wrote one that’s called, Hey Al. And this book is about this man who’s a janitor, and he lives in a one-room apartment with his dog. And his dog complains because he says, “The pigeons live better than we do.” So then he’s in the bathroom getting ready for work and or for bed. I don’t remember. Anyway, he’s in the bathroom getting ready. And this big, old bird pokes its head in the window and talks to him and says, “I have a better place for you to live.” And so they decide, he and the dog decide, they’re going to go check out what this bird has in mind. And they wait for the bird, and the bird takes them to an island, and they live on this island. And it’s a beautiful paradise full of all kinds of birds. But all of a sudden they start turning into birds, and they realize it’s a prison in a sense. And so they escape. And they escape back to their apartment and decide that living in that apartment is not so bad after all, because freedom is more important than having a lot of space. So it’s got a really good message, but it’s very different from the picture books we write, we see today. All of his are kind of that way. Another one is called, Oh Brother. And it’s about these twins who get separated from their parents in a crash. And they think the parents are dead. The parents think they are dead. And in the end they get reunited. But it’s a crazy, crazy story in the meantime. And then Christmas in July, again, these are very different from the picture books we have today. In Christmas in July, the reason it’s Christmas in July is because Santa can’t find his pants. He finds a man, a rich man, who is wearing his pants, and he’s like, “I need my pants.” And the guy’s like, “No, these are mine.” And he finds a Santa that’s standing on the street, like the Salvation Army Santas who raise money. And he asks if he can have his pants. Anyway, Santa gets arrested for loitering, and he’s in jail for six months, which is why we have Christmas in July because Santa has been in prison. So it is a very strange, goofy, silly book. He co-wrote some books with Maurice Sendak. And if you know anything about Maurice Sendak, he writes wild stories too. So the two of them together came up with some crazy stories. The Hey Al is illustrated by Richard Egielski, and it’s written by Arthur. Yorinks. Several of his books are illustrated by Richard, but his books that I like the most is Alphabet Atlas. And in this book, it takes you through a journey around the world, uses the alphabet, the letters of the alphabet and shares interesting facts about the different countries of the world. And this was published in 1999. So there may be some things that have changed in the world since then, but it’s a really nicely done beautiful book and the illustrations have a quilt kind of feel to them. And so it’s, it’s just really nice. And you can order this. You have to find it at used bookstores, mostly because it is, most of his books are either out of print or not available except secondhand.

So these are three of the writers who have birthdays in August. And I love this because they’re not the writers that necessarily show up when you’re doing a search for certain books or that you hear about all the time, but we have some wonderful writers who have shared books with us. And it’s nice to look back and see what they’ve done. I had never heard of some of these writers that were on the list of birthdays. And so it was fun to check them out and to see what they have. And many of them have chapter books. If you’re interested in some fun chapter books for your kids that are a little bit older. Another birthday that we have in August is Paula Danziger. And she’s written quite a few chapter books for children. The Amber Brown series is from her. And so those would be fun to check out with your kids. The Amber Brown series is easy to read and is written for around a third or fourth grade reading level. Amber is the main character, and she is a “shared custody kid,” she says. Her parents are divorced. And in Green with Envy, her mom is engaged and she’s spending her Christmas break at her dad’s new house. So it deals a lot with the feelings the kid has going through these life events.

So these are three authors I wanted to highlight for their picture books, but it’s also interesting to note some other writers that you may have heard of who have birthdays in August. First of all, on August 1st, Herman Melville who wrote Moby Dick, we have Percy Bish Shelley who was a poet. Lord, Alfred Tennyson, also a poet. His birthday was August 6th. Garrison Keillor, who wrote the Lake Wobegon series, a Prairie Home Companion. His birthday was August 7th. Alex Haley who wrote Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. His was August 11th. William Goldman, who wrote Princess Bride and Marathon Man. His birthday was August 12th. And one of my favorites, Ray Bradbury, who wrote Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and many short stories. His birthday was August 22nd. Barack Obama, who wrote Dreams from My Father, who also wrote Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. Love that book. And Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein is also August 31st. So many others, but it’s just fun to look and see what authors and illustrators have birthdays in each month. And I thought it would just help us to explore and see some of the different writers that maybe we have overlooked and get to know a few new writers that would be fun to read. And I think it would be interesting too if there are some present-day, modern authors–to find out when their birthdays are just to celebrate them each month too. Maybe it will inspire us to check out something new that we haven’t read before or we haven’t read in a very long time. Who’s your favorite author who’s born in August? If you have one that you’d like to share, please put it in the comments on the blog on my website, and we will check them out. It would be fun to learn of other authors that you enjoy reading.

And in sharing about these writers, I think about the legacy they’ve left to us through their books. And it just made me want to encourage those of you who are aspiring writers. I have a few friends who are writing their memoir, not necessarily for publication in the general or Christian markets, but for their families, for their children and grandchildren. If you are interested in sharing your story or the story of your family for your children or for publication, I want to recommend a few resources to you. First is Inspire Christian Writers. This group offers an amazing blog filled with great information for writers. Plus they offer critique groups, which is something you’ll definitely want to be a part of when it comes to polishing your work. Inspire is based in California, but they have members all over. And it’s just a great group. Second is WCCW (West Coast Christian Writers). If you are on the West Coast, this biannual conference is an amazing place to learn the ropes of writing and publishing. Other regions also have their writers conferences, but this is the one I’ve attended most. And it is perfect for the beginning writer as well as the published author. And third is Susy Flory. She’s a writer and a friend. She hosts a group called “Everything Memoir” on Facebook. I would highly recommend joining this group if you are wanting to write your story. Lots of good info is available there. And the links for all of these will be in the show notes. So be sure to check them out.

And then part of discipleship with our children is found in Proverbs. When we’re told to raise a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. We often think that only refers to spiritual growth and faith, but the original Hebrew encompasses more in the sense that we need to raise our children in the bent, personality, the uniqueness of who God has created them to be. So what are your child’s gifts and talents? What are they interested in and passionate about? We need to encourage them in these areas too. And if your child is interested in writing, I want to recommend a program that is threefold. The same group that wrote Do Hard Things, which I’ve recommended on other podcasts, and also helped launch the book Love Riot, which I’ve also recommended, has offered classes for children and young people who want to write. They offer workshops as well as classes that are available for high school credit. And they also have a mentoring program that they’ve just renamed The Author Conservatory. And this is an amazing program that helps your child learn the craft of writing with the goal of being published. This is open for gifted writers who will be taught and mentored by published writers. And the links will be available in the show notes for these as well.

Then for our devotional today, I wanted to talk more about legacy. And so I’m sharing a devotional from the Proverbs 31 Ministries. And this one is called, “I Want to Leave a Legacy” from March 9th, 2010. And it is written by Melanie Chitwood. Psalm 89:1 from the NAS says, “I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever to all generations. I will make known your faithfulness with my mouth.”

“What do your children think of when they think of you? Their answers would be very revealing, wouldn’t they? One day in early elementary school, Zachary came home with a Mother’s Day picture he created for me. In the middle was a lovely portrait of me wearing a dress made of my favorite colors of pink and purple. Then around the picture, his teacher had told him to write four different words to describe his mom. He wrote, ‘reading, napping, chocolate, chip cookies, and laughing.’ His words made me smile with their accuracy. Every day we are leaving our fingerprints on our kids. What do we want our children to think of? When they think of their parents, a mom who was gentle and firm in her discipline, or a mom who flew off the handle easily, a mom who seemed permanently attached to her phone or a mom who was available for life’s big and small moments. A mom who occasionally went to church or a mom whose love of God was a part of her everyday life. A legacy can be defined as something handed down every day through our words and actions. We are developing a legacy to be carried in the character of our children. It’s easy for the busyness of life to keep you from being purposeful in your parenting. Let’s decide today to leave the legacy we really want. Let’s make sure it’s a legacy, not born of busyness and urgency, but one born of purposefulness and prayer. It always helps me to remember that God is a parent too. So who better to turn to for parenting advice? It also helps me to know that God loves my children even more than I do. And he will fill in the gaps for me and Scott, as we seek him first. No matter what kind of parent you’ve been today, you can decide to add to and improve the legacy you’re leaving. These are the only days we have with our children. We don’t get them back. Let’s begin today to be the parents we really want to be.

Dear Lord. Thank you so much for each of my children. I need your help every day to be the parent you want me to be. Lord I’m human. And I know that as a parent, I’ve made mistakes and will in the future. Lord redeem the past and strengthen me for the future. Lord, thank you that you will give me your love, wisdom, strength, direction, and patients to be the best parent for my children. Help me to leave a legacy that brings you glory and one that will enable my children to know how much you love them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to join my mailing list and get notifications when I post a new blog post or a new podcast, you can sign up on my website at TerrieHellardBrown.com. I would love to have you join my mailing list. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox, but I do hope to bless you. That is my goal. With all that I do on this podcast, my goal is that you would be blessed and inspired and encouraged. And when you sign up, you also have access to some free items that only people on the mailing list have access to. One of the main items is a phoneme book for your children. And it’s a coloring book, so you can print it out, and they can color and then you can bind it and laminate it or whatever you want to do to make it last for your family for years. It covers all the basic phonemes in the English language. Be sure to share this podcast with your friends, especially if they’re new parents and are wanting to disciple their children and help them to know more about what it means to live the Christian life. As you know, we share a lot of books about discipleship and parenting along with wonderful picture books and board books that you can share with your children. We appreciate the share, and hopefully your friends will appreciate you sharing with them.

Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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