WICHITA, Kansas, October 20, 2014 -- Becoming an author and illustrator wasn’t what Connie Kane set out to do when she enrolled in classes at Southwestern College in 2010. She was working as a para professional in Goddard and had her sights set on a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education when a final project steered her in an unexpected direction.
Kane was tasked by her Children’s Literature instructor, Jill Sullivan, to write and illustrate a children’s book as her final project for the class. The book would then have to be put up to the ultimate test: reading it to elementary students.
“Part of our assignment for whatever we created was we had to read it to different age levels – to different classrooms,” Kane said.
Born in Eureka, Kansas, Kane spent the majority of her youth in Kansas and Oklahoma. The mother of four and grandmother of three now lives on 80 acres of land in a 100-year-old farmhouse just outside of Goddard where she enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren. She says it was her family and quiet country life that would be her biggest inspiration for her book entitled “Journey Through the Meadow.”
“As I sat down and wrote the book my kids were a huge inspiration,” she said. “We used to go on nature walks when my children were growing up and now my grandkids come over and we kind of still do that.”
The book is a quick read, perfect for any young child.
“My favorite part about the book is that the main character is the reader, so it eliminates any kind of social or ethnic boundaries,” said Kane. “It is who is reading it.”
Its illustrations, which Kane did herself with a little help from her students at Oak Street Elementary School in Goddard, boast eye-catching color.
“The students took computer paper and we all joined in together and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do yet, but they just filled the sheet as much as they could with water colors and we hung them up to dry,” she explained. “And then I made stencils and then I began cutting stuff out and that’s just kind of how things evolved.”
Once it was finished she read it aloud to her students and their teachers. Their positive feedback would become her motivation to have it published.
“I had a couple teachers remark, ‘Oh, I would buy that,’” she said.
With nothing to lose, Kane took the book to Mennonite Press in Newton, Kansas about a year ago to see about having it self-published.
“They loved it,” she said. “They absolutely loved it and I could see them getting excited about it.”
Next she would have to re-do her illustrations, covering the pages with her colorful artwork. After that was complete she got the approval of the Library of Congress and purchased her International Standard Book Number and tax codes. About six weeks later, she had the final project in hand.
“I am very pleased,” she said of her book. “It’s a neat feeling.”
Her former teacher, who gave her an ‘A,’ shares the same sentiment.
“I read it to my grandchildren and they loved it,” said Jill Sullivan, Southwestern College affiliate faculty member. “I hope that she continues to write and explore ways to utilize her creativity. I was so excited to receive a copy of her book in the mail and will use it as an example in future classes.”
Kane graduated from Southwestern College through Professional Studies in 2012 and currently substitute teaches in west Wichita and Goddard while she seeks a full-time teaching position. She is in the process of selling her book on Amazon.com and if all goes well, she already has thoughts for a second. Until then, copies of her book can be purchased on her Web site, granpubishing.com
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