As an elementary school teacher and mother, Shelley Rudderham has plenty of experience reading to children.
But the Grade 3 teacher at Sackville’s Ecole du Grand-Portage is now also enjoying a new role as a children’s author.
She recently published three books in French (also translated into English) in a series called ‘The Adventures of the Virtuous Earth Angels.’ All the books are intended to promote and teach children about the importance of things like compassion, respect, cultural diversity and kindness. They are intended for elementary school children and appeal to both boys and girls.
The books have proven so popular among classroom teachers and parents that they’re now on the provincial French and English elementary school reading lists and in a few libraries.
“Way back when my girls were small I thought that I’d write a children’s book just for the fun of it,” Rudderham said.
When the Nova Scotia weekly newspaper ‘Le Courier de la Nouvelle Ecosse’ runs writing contests for children, Rudderham often encourages her students to participate. In December 2013, they ran a contest for adults to submit Christmas stories. Rudderham decided to write a submission and ended up winning the contest.
That short story formed the basis for her first book, ‘The Last Touch for a Joyous Christmas.’ She read the story to her Grade 3 students, who asked her if she had written any other stories she could share.
“I told them I didn’t have one, but when I went home, it was a Friday night and I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ and I wrote another,’” Rudderham recalled. “I wrote all (three) of my first stories in French and then translated them into English.”
In addition to her Christmas story she has two other published books in the series, ‘A Poem That Changed a Village’ and ‘The Most Special Ball Game Ever in Acadia.’ She’s working on other books to be published soon.
“In each book there are themes mentioned. They all have to do with compassion,” she explained. “There is a great deal more importance being placed on compassion these days. It’s one of the things that helps counteract bullying.”
Many teachers have already purchased the books and incorporated them into their curriculum. Rudderham also provides lesson plans in French or English to teachers who request them.
A Saskatchewan school board is currently looking at adding the books to its reading list, and she’s also talking to a school board in the Gaspesie region of Quebec.
“The books are for anybody who comes in contact with children. Parents, coaches, youth groups, church groups,” she explained. “They contain messages that are universal and lessons that we want our children to learn, virtues we all want our children to develop.”
Rudderham is running a contest until April 21 asking people to share a story about a child who has done an act of kindness. She’ll select one winner in English and another in French, and provide each with a book. Winners will be announced on April 23, World Book and Copyright Day.
Stories can be sent through Facebook, www.facebook.com/shelleyrudderhambooks, or via her website using the Contact Us link.
Copies of Rudderham’s books are now available at the Halifax Central Library and the Keshen Goodman Library as well as the library in Antigonish.
Books can be purchased online via her website, www.shelleyrudderhambooks.com or at Woozles Children’s Bookstore and at Carrefour Atlantique in Halifax.