Children’s book puts presidential campaign in perspective
Local teacher-turned-author Heather Patterson’s first book, Passing the Bone: America’s Next POTUS, was published by Mascot Books last month.
Patterson, who has been teaching kindergarten at Liberty Christian School in Argyle for six years, she said she wrote the book to teach young readers about the upcoming presidential election, as explained by the Obamas’ Portuguese water dog, Bo.
“I’m passionate about children and about politics, so I wanted to combine my passion to provide a resource where they can connect to the election,” Patterson said. “My part was to write a book that was completely nonpartisan, but was still very patriotic and educational, so they could open up a book that was about not only the First Dog, but about the office and the responsibilities of the president.”
Patterson said she started writing her first book, a children’s book about former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, but she hit writer’s block in summer 2014. She knew she wanted something more lighthearted and decided to start over with a new premise: It’s time to elect the next First Dog, and Bo is teaching the pups in the running about what it takes.
“Children can learn about the changing of office, and they can learn White House facts and presidential history, but the perspective of the First Dog puts in on their level,” Patterson said. “It was a lot of fun working on it. I just wanted to provide something for students that’s engaging, witty and funny — something they would relate to.”
She said in her time as a teacher, she’s learned the key to entertaining and relating to young readers is to enter into their world, see the topic from their perspective and find an engaging, relatable way to tell the story.
“They love stories about animals, they love their pets at home, they certainly love learning about the First Dog,” Patterson said. “[The key is] being able to have not only an entertaining book, but an educational book, all told through the perspective of something every single child can enjoy and connect with, which is an animal.”
Patterson said incorporating humor also makes teaching easier. When Bo tells the canine candidates the do’s and don’ts of being the POTUS — Pup of the United States — it’s silly, but Patterson said the silliness serves a purpose.
“It’s appropriate to where they are socially. They’re learning about social expectations and social interactions,” Patterson said. “They very much have a list of procedures and guidelines that they have to go by to be good friends and students. This teaches that, but in a fun and engaging way.”
RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.
ON THE WEB
Passing the Bone: America’s Next POTUS, written by Heather Patterson and illustrated by Jingo de la Rosa, is available for purchase online: http://bit.ly/1Rky9ak.
Teachers and families can find sample lesson plans, vocabulary words from the book, and more at Patterson’s website: http://heathernpatterson.com/teachers-kids