For author Miriam Hathaway, the creation of Teacher, I Made You a Book was a labor of love. With help from kids in her neighborhood, Miriam set out to create a one-of-a-kind book where children can capture heartfelt appreciation for a favorite teacher. Full of playful, kid-friendly prompts, this adorable fill-in book is an opportunity for students to shower their teachers with compliments and celebrate a memorable school year. We asked Miriam to share a bit about the heart behind the book. Here’s our conversation:
You’ve had a chance to work on a number of Compendium projects, but we hear there is one that tops your list.
Hands down it is Teacher, I Made You a Book. I wrote it during the spring of 2020 when my kids’ elementary school was shut down and we were all isolating at home. We were just beginning this pandemic journey, and we didn’t know what was ahead of us.
Since it’s a fill-in book for kids, I practiced the prompts with my own school-age son and daughter as we did school at home. It was a great way for them to reflect on the teachers they were missing. My kids’ perspectives were so helpful.
I also recruited a couple young female writers to edit an early draft. One was in kindergarten and the other in second grade, so they were the perfect ages too. They were thrilled to work on a “real book,” and I was so happy to offer some fun for them during such a difficult time. Plus, they gave me such great feedback!
After schools opened back up, and the book was done, I got to deliver finished copies to my young editors. They filled them out for their teachers immediately! This book will always remind me of how we can create bright spots even in particularly heavy times in our lives.
What inspired you when writing this book?
Specifically, I thought about my kids’ teachers. I thought about how caring they are in planning their classrooms and school days, how they nurture their students’ emotional lives as well as their education. I really wanted them to be seen for all that they do. Teachers are professionally trained heroes who do a lot of invisible––and yet, invaluable––work.
The pandemic has been particularly difficult for teachers. I truly can’t imagine what they’ve had to navigate. I dream of them all receiving copies of this book, filled out by beloved little hands, and feeling at least a small sense of recognition for what they do for each one of their students. Since every book will be unique, it’s really an extraordinary gift. I hope that teachers hang on to theirs for years and years.
There are so many fun prompts for kids to complete. Do you have a favorite?
One of my faves is “We’re always learning something new about each other. Like how I know you like ___________ and I like ___________. And we like each other a lot too.”
Every student has a special relationship with their teacher. I remember my kids’ kindergarten teacher loved hippos, and every time we’d see a picture of a hippo or a stuffed animal of a hippo, my kids would shout “Ms. Gibbs loves hippos!” It’s so fun to see children develop their own
What do you hope students get out of the experience of writing this book?
Grade schoolers are still developing the language of appreciation. I hope that this book shows them that it can be super fun to say thank you, that playfulness is a gift to be shared, and that they see just how much their teacher has impacted their experience at school.
Miriam Hathaway is author of over thirty books, which have been featured in Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Target stores, and the window of her local toy store. Before she started writing full-time, Miriam worked in publishing for over 15 years. She lives in Washington State, where she laughs a lot and writes things that bring sunshine and heart to our daily lives. You can find her at www.miriamhathawaywrites.com.