I have really great news to share in the wonderful world of teaching character…
The release of a new book is coming up very soon. It’s not another children’s book that teaches a lesson on character but a book for (drumroll please) educators! You may be wondering why I am so excited about this book. It’s because I know the author. I’ve been reading her blog for almost two years now and I have learned so much from her. Barbara Gruener, the author, is releasing her new book titled What’s Under YOUR Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. Barbara is a character coach in Texas and writes for her amazing blog, The Corner on Character. You might also recognize her name because she wrote a parents guide to character in my book The Potato Chip Champ! Barbara and I have been working together on making a difference through our work for a few years now. Let’s learn more about Barbara and her new book in an author Q&A.
How can YOU get a copy of Barbara’s new book? You can enter to win an autographed copy at the end of this blog post or books are available for preorder:
Blog: The Corner on Character
Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available.
What’s Under YOUR Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind is basically a quick guide to character-integration for elementary educators and parents alike. I’ve taken stories and strategies that have worked for me to connect with kids during my thirty-year-tenure as a teacher and counselor and I’ve put them all into one place. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES, I’ve designated each chapter to showcase a virtue that superheroes young and old alike use to make the world a better place.
What was the inspiration for your book?
The inspiration for my book was actually a dozen years in the making. I started speaking about character development after I attended a Character Development Seminar back in the Fall of 2000. After that training, I began to create and share character-development activities for our school’s website and then eventually my blog. Every time I conducted a workshop or delivered a keynote, without fail, someone would ask me if I had a book or where they could buy my book. My pat answer was that I have written a book but I’ve shared it for free online. I’d give out my website address and it seemed to satisfy.
But last October, when Marian Nelson from Nelson Publishing and Marketing sat in on one of my Character Education Partnership National Forum Sessions in DC, she didn’t ask if I had a book. She asked why I didn’t have a book and she wasn’t satisfied with my pat answer. We talked the following week and she helped me see how far we could extend my reach by putting some of my enrichment activities, ideas, and songs into print form. I set a goal for compiling a ‘best of’ book and sprinkling in some new content by New Year’s Eve so that we could have it ready to debut in the summer of 2014, and, sure enough, I finished my rough draft on December 31st around 8 pm.
Being your first book, tell us what was difficult in writing it?
The most difficult thing for me was probably keeping in mind who my audience is because I wanted to write for the masses. I figured that character was character and so sometimes I was writing as a mom for parents, sometimes as a teacher for teachers, and other times as an administrator for counselors and principals. My editor, Kris Yankee, had a keen awareness about stuff like that, so she had to derail me a few times and get me back on track. In fact, I pretty much had to re-write the entire last chapter because my stamina was waning and I went into mommy-mode instead of character coach.
Can you share something from the book with us?
Superheroes are all about service. The scene goes like this: The
villain is threatening to take over the town and the superhero
sees the need and jumps into action. Service with a smile, problem
solved, and the day is saved. Superheroes have a strong moral code
and simply cannot help but fly to the rescue and serve. And to
those naysayers who think that children need to be a certain age to
serve, I say, Holy cow, Batman!
As a farmer’s daughter, I was working in the barn at the
ripe old age of two. I owned my first calf and was helping with
chores by the time I went off to kindergarten. We milked about
fifty cows until the time of my tenth birthday, when we built a
milking parlor and increased our herd size to 250. Every morning
before school and every afternoon after, duty called and I put on
my barn clothes to milk those cows, sixteen at a time. Not only
did I learn responsibility, work ethic, and service at a very young
age, but I also practiced them day in and day out until these values
became my superpowers.
When I left my family farm for college and beyond, I was
well-equipped to take my place in the world, to show up on time,
to work hard, and to serve with a smile. Service creates a win-win
because the helper feels needed while filling needs.
At schools of character, every student serves, whether it’s
something seemingly small, like being the line leader or caboose,
or a little more involved like serving on safety patrol. Every job is important and valued because every job meets a need.
What will you be working on next?
Such a great question; selling books, I guess. I’ve got some fun summer plans which include workshops and book signings in Missouri, Wisconsin, San Diego, San Antonio and Dallas. It still sounds so weird to me … book signings … such an exciting time. I also plan to continue blogging as I’m about to hit a milestone by publishing my 1000th post. In October on Halloween, I’ll be delivering the kick-off keynote at the CEP National Forum. My topic will be Kindness Is The Real Global Warming and I can’t wait. Such an honor it’ll be to be with so many character educators in one place and to be able to thank and affirm them for their heart work. I’ll also be starting my 31st year in education by returning as the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales, so I’m staying busy.
When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my family and friends. Thank you, Maria, for your interest in my work and for helping put this resource into the hands of character educators who will ultimately help their superheroes soar by believing in them, gifting them with a character cape, and letting them go to make their mark on the world.