Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Behind the Books: A New Year, A New Direction

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions a month ago. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking a lot about my goals for 2012 and beyond.

Each January, I make a list of goals for the year. Some I accomplish, and some I don’t. I design the list that way on purpose. There are always a few over-the-top, pie-in-the-sky ideas that I just want to put out there in the Universe.

This year I’ve been looking back as well as forward. December 2011 marked my twentieth anniversary as a professional writer. I still remember how excited I was to see that first check—even if it was only $4.00.

This year, 2012, marks the fifteenth anniversary of my first book acceptance. In 2012, I have twenty-one new books coming out. That’s the most titles I’ve ever published in a single year. And one of them will be my 150th book. I’m not sure which one because some of the release dates are still in flux.

But going forward, I think things are going to change for me. The future I've currently mapped out for myself includes publishing fewer books, and in some cases, different kinds of books.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has put so much emphasis on math and language arts that science instruction is now limited in many elementary schools and nonexistent in some. I’m deeply concerned about this shift. In recent years, I’ve worked hard to develop activities that integrate science and language arts with the hope that teachers can sneak a little more science into their lesson plans.

Teachers responded so enthusiastically that I began thinking about a pie-in-the-sky idea--writing a book for teachers that includes some of my ideas. And now, thanks to Stenhouse Publishing, I've achieved that over-the-top goal.

I’ll be spending most of 2012 writing a pair of books that present a new way of teaching elementary science. And there are likely be more similar booksinthe future.

The two books, one for grades K-2 and one for grades 3-5, I'm working on now will support the new Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and the new Framework for K-12 Science Education. And most importantly from my point of view, they will immerse students in high-quality children’s literature.

The children’s books I select will be deftly integrated into inquiry-based lessons that include a range of engaging, minds-on activities and will appeal to students at various points on the multiple intelligences spectrum. In many cases, the lessons will get students outdoors, experiencing the wide world and all its wonders. Can you tell how excited I am?

Although it will be hard to put my children’s writing on hold, I’m really looking forward to this new opportunity. 2012 is going to be a landmark year.


  1. What an awesome opportunity to help shape science education and connect literature to science. Bravo! I can't wait to see these books.

  2. Twenty-one books is amazing, Melissa!! Congratulations!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Leslie and Sue. It's an exciting year for me.

  4. Many congratulations, Melissa! And as an elementary teacher, I am very excited about your future Science Education books!

  5. Thanks, Ann. I'm really enjoying this new project.

  6. This sounds great, Melissa. What a fun project for the kids. (and for you to put together.)

  7. Thanks, Wendi. It's a great way for me to draw attention to some of the winderful nonficiton out there for kids.