I am a passionate second grade teacher from Michigan. My students are the inspiration for the books I write. I believe that children's books should be fun, diverse, and written with the purpose of teaching a valuable lesson!
SIX MINUTES WITH LINDSAY ACHTMAN:
Joining LitPick today for Six Minutes with an Author is Lindsay Achtman, teacher and author of The Day the Swing Stopped. Her students have been a huge inspiration, and her book teaches a very powerful lesson about children and technology.
***How did you get started writing?
Writing is something I have always done for fun. I had all of these creative stories in my head just begging to be recorded and shared with my closest loved ones. My grandpa and great grandmother were both writers, and listening to their poems always inspired me to write poetry of my own. The Day The Swing Stopped was the first story that made me truly believe in a message so passionately that I didn’t just want to share it with my family and friends; I knew I had to share it with the world.
***Who influenced you?
As a teacher, my students have become my biggest influences. Building positive relationships with my students has given me great insight into their lives. Over the last five years of teaching, I have noticed just how much technology dominates their daily routine both at school and at home. Differentiating for students in the classroom has brought upon movements like One to One education where each student is paired with their own electronic device for them to use for all academic areas. The more time my children spend in front of screens, the shorter their attention span became. When speaking with colleagues, it is not uncommon to learn that the first consequence educators apply to “misbehavior” in the classroom is taking away recess minutes.
The weight the education system places on assessments has also pushed for more instructional time with less time for children to run around and explore. As a teacher and parent, this is concerning to me. Playtime is crucial for building problem solving and communication skills, so it is no coincidence that the less free interaction time children are given together, the weaker these skills become. I recognize that children do enjoy playing outdoors, but the trend of technology makes it much easier for parents to keep their children busy and happy indoors where they can complete other household tasks with little involvement in what activities their child partakes in. It is my hopes that my story will remind families of the importance of putting away the controller and to go play together outside.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
I love the Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems. His use of dialogue is both witty and entertaining. I also love the book Be Brave, Little Penguin because it teaches children to face their fears using poetic language and colorful illustrations. I am drawn to books that teach a lesson in a fun way!
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
My advice for someone who wants to be an author would be to write about subjects you are passionate about. When you are truly invested in your writing, others will take notice and become invested as well. I also advise new authors to be open to constructive criticism through the writing process.
The Day The Swing Stopped was originally written in four hours during a time when I was fired up about the way our children are overusing technology. My editor gave me lots of helpful feedback that allowed me to stretch more of my details and allow my readers to gain a deeper insight into the lives of my main character. It was amazing watching the transformation from where my story started to where it is now, and I feel truly blessed.
***Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is in my daughter’s room on her big comfy chair or on our hammock in the backyard. These are peaceful places where I am surrounded by rich colors and am able to be in touch with my thoughts.
***What else would you like to tell us?
I am available to do read alouds and book signings all summer long! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling.
Lindsay, thank you very much for joining us. We love that your students have inspired you to write this book, and the message you share is very important. We look forward to reading more of your books!
Teachers and parents, be sure to pick up a copy of this book for the upcoming school year (https://amzn.to/2uVHWNH).