Sixth book is most personal for North Drive teacher, author
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 2, 2012 1:46 PM
Gregg Brown, left, a reading specialist at North Drive Elementary School, reads his latest book with Nya Ward. This is his sixth educational book published since 2003.
Gregg Brown has always been shy about meeting new people.
So when he attended an educator's conference at Atlantic Beach several years ago, he was admittedly nervous but compelled to step out of his comfort zone, he said.
"It turned out to be a very wise and beneficial decision," he said. "Within a day or two I was scooping up sea creatures with new friends, laughing about our common experiences with our students ... by the end of the week I felt a part of the whole."
It prompted him to write a poem -- "The Friendship Shell" -- about a boy who throws a randomly chosen shell into his pail. Only later does his teacher discover the shell is actually a very rare one, prompting his classmates to sit up and take note.
Since writing the poem nearly 10 years ago, the reading specialist at North Drive Elementary School has had many opportunities to share it with his students, as well as parent and teacher groups.
And it was recently turned into a book that will be used not only in classrooms but at national trade shows and events.
This is actually Brown's sixth book since 2003. The previous ones have been scripts used by elementary students to enhance their reading skills in elementary schools across the U.S., and by parents and teachers around the world.
"The Friendship Shell" was chosen to be part of a series called "Kaleidoscope Collection," leveled books for different grades, published by Hameray Publishing Group.
It afforded him the opportunity to work with Joy Calloway, author of the "Miss Wishy-Washy" series, who edited his book.
"She's such a big name in children's literature," he said. "That just makes me feel that I have grown as an author, to be asked to work with her. She is one of the ones that chose this book. Fifty authors were chosen in this series and I was one of the ones chosen."
This is Brown's first narrative book and is geared toward the second-grade reader.
In addition to the book's recent release and wrapping up another school year, Brown is on a team of educators working on the English/language arts pacing guide for the new common core standards for Wayne County. He has also started a manuscript for his next publication, "Santa All Year," written for first-graders.
All of his books hold special meaning, he said, but "The Friendship Shell" is perhaps the most personal.
"Every book I have written has elements of me in it and elements of my family and my students, but this one is so significant because in my 22 years of teaching, I see children who are like I was -- that loner child who couldn't seem to break through to be in the pack, part of everything," he said. "When I wrote this poem back in 2003, I was surrounded by adults that I didn't know and developed friendships.
"That's how I was able to get that feeling down on paper. I thought, 'Man, my students could really benefit from this story.' It's important because it lets children know that it's OK to be different, but you need to reach out to others."
All three of the educational publishing companies he has worked with sell his books online and at career fairs and conferences.
He also has his own website, http://community2.webtv.net/GUIDEDREADING/ABOUTTHEAUTHOR/ so parents can access resources to work with their child.