#HomeHaiku Challenge Winners!

For NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY last week, I challenged you to write #HomeHaiku poems about your time at home during this quarantine and you did not disappoint! Here are my two favorites made into fun graphics. Enjoy!

“Zoom” by Patty S. in MD:

“QuaranTine with T’s” by Scott R. in VA


National Haiku Day Challenge

Today is NATIONAL HAIKU DAY! A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. Haikus do NOT rhyme and are made up of 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables. 

I’m celebrating NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY with a challenge.  This is for kids, parents, teachers, or anyone that wants to try their hand at writing a haiku. Your challenge is to create a “Home Haiku” about anything relating to our time at home during this quarantine. 

Your haiku can be SERIOUS …

or FUNNY …

No rhyming! Just 3 lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5.

Leave your haiku in the comments and/or send it to @WhitehouseSus on twitter with #HomeHaiku. The best “Home Haikus” will be made into fun graphics like the ones above and featured here next week!

Happy Haiku Day!

I Heart Books

It’s been weeks (months???) of this quarantine and I’m sure everyone is struggling with their new routines, or lack thereof. I’m finding myself spending lots of time in front of a screen, between my grad school work, my elementary school library stuff, and helping my children with their schoolwork. Starting and ending my day with an actual paper book in my hand has been a much needed respite from technology and the stress of it all.

I came across this simple, but perfect print that I love on etsy by OrlyPea.
Technology is wonderful and I love that children can access books on-line. However, for me, nothing compares to holding an actual book in my hand and turning the pages. I think I need this print in poster size for my future library!

Stay safe and happy quarantine reading, everyone!

It’s Time for a Comeback

So … this blog has been a little quiet lately. Well, actually A LOT quiet. My last post was June of 2018. Yikes. To say it’s been a rough few years is an understatement.

Flashback to 2016 when things were going really well for me as an aspiring children’s book author. In February, I received VERY encouraging feedback from a trusted friend in the children’s literature business who critiqued five of my picture book manuscripts. In March, I applied for and won an SCBWI six month mentorship with picture book author Ellen Jackson. From March to August, with Ellen’s guidance and feedback, I revised and polished six manuscripts. In October, I had an AMAZING critique by a picture book author at an SCBWI conference, who said my newest picture book manuscript was ready to submit. WOW! My writing journey was speeding along and it felt like I was really, really close.

(Cue the dark, foreboding music)

At the end of 2016, life was literally and figuratively turned upside down when I rolled over in the middle of the night and developed severe vertigo. Even moving my head a fraction of an inch would send me spinning. It was awful and scary. As time went on, my symptoms lessened but never went away and it had a daily impact on my quality of life. My neurologist put me on medication in 2017, which eased the dizziness and made life more manageable. I was able to get back to writing and was more determined than ever to complete some new manuscripts for feedback and possible submission.

Unfortunately, those wonderful pills I was taking for my vertigo caused some serious medical issues that continually got worse and worse over the two years I was taking them. Many things in my life had to be put on the back burner, including my writing … which was devastating. This past summer, I finally said enough was enough. With help from a team of specialists, I slowly weaned myself off the vertigo medication and have found other ways to control my symptoms.

One of the positives of the past couple years was the realization that it was time for a career change. Last year, I started taking classes to become a school librarian (I’d been a special education teacher for a total of 14 years) and when the librarian assistant job opened up at my school, I jumped at the chance to apply. I got the job and it has been wonderfully healing and inspiring for me. I spend my days in a library surrounded by children’s books, learning from a librarian who is top-notch and an absolute blast to work with. My author brain has been switched back on and I’m loving all the book ideas that are coming out of me again.

So now … it is time to put the past in the past and fully embrace my passion again: writing and reading children’s books and sharing tidbits here with you as I pursue my goal of becoming a published children’s book author!

It’s time for a comeback! Let’s do this!

(Source: https://thechiclife.com)




What I’ve Been Reading (June 2018)

At the end of June, I always look forward to my week at The Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University. As a teacher and children’s book writer, I am completely in my element and end up buying way more books than I think I will! Here are some of my favorite books by the authors and illustrators that presented at the conference.

Preschool (ages 3-5 years):Early Elementary (5-8 years):

What I’ve Been Reading (Feb. 2018)

I’m gearing up for Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) in March and have started reading some great books. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Preschool (ages 3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):Early Elementary (5-8 years):
Middle Grades (8-12 years):

Reading for Research … it’s ReFoReMo!

If you are considering writing books for children, the first piece of advice I would give is to read LOTS and LOTS of books for children. Simple, right? For the past ten years, I have been reading children’s books like a part-time job. Seriously. I almost always have a bag full of library books in our house and will throw a few in my purse when I’m heading out and might have some downtime to read. I also usually have a young adult or middle grade novel playing on CD in my car. Being an elementary school teacher is a bonus because I get to read even more books to my students.

Reading children’s books is the best research you can do if you want to hone your craft as a writer and find your unique voice. You can see all the books I’ve read and recommended each month here.

A perfect way to start reading for research is to join The ReFoReMo Challenge! ReFoReMo is Reading for Research Month. Here’s the description from the website:

“The ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month Challenge, was founded in 2015 to help picture book writers reform writing by reading and researching mentor texts in the month of March.  The challenge is supported by educators, authors, illustrators, editors, and literary agents in addition to a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction picture book recommendations. We welcome classrooms, educators, writers, illustrators, and publishing professionals to learn with us.”

Doesn’t this sound exciting? I haven’t participated before, but I signed up today and you should too. The suggested picture books for each day of March are listed here. I’ve already reserved a bunch from my library and can’t wait to dive in! Click on the picture below for more information and to sign-up. Happy reading!

Valentiny Contest 2018

Children’s author and blogger, Susanna Leonard Hill, is in the third year of her Valentine’s Day contest, affectionately known as “Valentiny.” The tiny part is for the tiny humans your story should be written for and because of the tiny word count…only 214 words or less! This year’s entries must include a character who is hopeful. Here is my entry:

Hoping for Love 
By Susanne Whitehouse
(59 words)

“I have something to tell you.”
“Okay … ”
“I think I’m in love with you.”
“Oh, wow. Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure.”
“But you’re a gorilla and I’m … ”
“Beautiful? Yellow? Appealing?”
“Well, yes. But … I’m not sure 
you can be in love with a piece of fruit.”
“Oh. Then maybe what I’m feeling is … ”
“Don’t say it.”

(designed and created by Legacy Art)

Check out Susanna’s blog and the rest of the entries here

And for fun, here‘s my entry into the Valentiny contest from two years ago.

Matt de la Pena’s LOVE

Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate this day of love with Matt de la Pena’s newest book, LOVE. The New York Times Book Review says this of LOVE:

“Everything that can be called love — from shared joy to comfort in the darkness — is gathered in the pages of this reassuring, refreshingly honest picture book.” 

This is a fresh and beautiful take on a timeless subject. If you enjoyed the voice of his Newbery award winner, THE LAST STOP OF MARKET STREET, you will love LOVE. Enjoy!