Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

April 28, 2014

Shoulders entertains Pleasant Hill students at Literacy Night

CROSSVILLE — Would you believe that an author describing his writing process would keep two-dozen or more children, many pre-school and kindergarten, enthralled for close to an hour? Michael Shoulders is as much an entertainer as he is an author of so-called “alphabet books” for young children. He showed an animated power-point program, did magic tricks, had the children actively involved with humor and questions and ended with a rap song — “T is for Tennessee.”

Shoulders was a guest at Literacy Night at the Pleasant Hill Elementary School April 10. Literacy Days or Nights are held a Pleasant Hill Elementary in the evening or on a Saturday. It is an opportunity for children and their parents to enjoy reading together. Sometimes there are crafts and refreshments. The 21st Century After School Grant makes possible the gifting of a free book for every child.

Shoulders talked about where he gets his ideas, his research techniques, his writing process, how books are created, how illustrations are developed and how books are published. He rarely meets the artists who illustrate his books, but he showed photographs from the Titanic that were used to develop some of the paintings. Shoulders discussed some of the most interesting facts that he discovered while researching books like T is for Titanic or G is for Gladiator. T is for Titanic won the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Silver Medal and the NAPPA (National Parenting Publications) Honor Award. D is for Drum was named the Social Studies 2008 Book of the Year. Say Daddy was a NAPPA Gold Medal Recipient. It takes him about a year to develop a book.

Although while growing up, his military dad took the family to many places, he graduated from high school in Clarksville. He attended Austin Peay State University, receiving an education degree. As a federal programs supervisor for Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools in Tennessee, he provided assistance to all 30 schools before retiring in 2005 to become a full-time author. Shoulders had attended the Governor’s Academy for Teachers of Writing in 1995 and became bitten by the writing bug. He now visits schools across the U.S. and Europe, provides in-service training to teachers on literacy issues and discipline. It is obvious that he loves performing and interacting with children, parents and teachers as much as he does reading and writing.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

Sunday, May 4 — Hike at Black Mountain, Crab Orchard. Meet at 2 p.m. in Pleasant Hill Community Church parking lot to carpool.

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