Friday, July 17, 2009

The Dream of Writing for Children

By Dawn Menge

I’ve always had the dream of writing children’s books about my travels. But as we all know, life gets in the way. I was busy raising three children, teaching special education, and going to school to work on my credential and masters. It was during one of my credentialing classes that I learned how to write a children’s book. Our assignment for the class was to write a children’s picture book based on math. So, I wrote a book based on the calendar, days of the weeks, months of the year and seasons. After the assignment was over, I put the book away and got on with my life.

Several years later, I took the book out again and decided it was time to work on my dream. I researched several self-publishing sites on the Internet. I chose Outskirts Press ( based on the authors’ comments about their products. It took a year to feel comfortable enough with the edits to let it go to publishing.

They say you should write about what you know. What do I know best? My family! All of the characters in my books are members of my family. Queen Vernita, who is the main character of Queen Vernita’s Visitors, is my 89-year-old grandmother. The other characters include my children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. In Queen Vernita’s second adventure Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, I have expanded her friends’ characters to include other family members and friends. This second adventure is based on the flora and fauna of Alaska.

In Queen Vernita’s third adventure I have teamed up with my brother who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I have dubbed him Sir Heathybean the Astronomer. Yes, this was his nickname as a child. He chose the outfit, though, which is a white lab coat, silly hair, and his favorite bunny slippers. He and his wife, Cora the Teacher, travel through the year with Queen Vernita teaching their friends about the solar system.

In Queen Vernita’s fourth book she will be visiting her Enchanted Islands. She will be diving with the sharks and mantra rays, snorkeling in the coral reef, learning about lava and the growth of the islands, and the native culture. I will be combining my experiences in Tahiti and Hawaii for the research on her adventure.

Yvonne Perry is very right about entering your books into literary contests. Queen Vernita has won two awards already. She won first place in the EVVY awards and an honorable mention in the Readers Views awards.

My advice to all who are contemplating following their dreams, whatever they may be, is to do it, but do what you know. This brings the passion into what you are doing. If you are following your passions and your heart, the journey is the reward, not the end result.

(See photos of Dawn presenting her books to children at and

I have been blessed with the quality of my life and the family that I have. Otherwise, Queen Vernita would not be able to educate all of the young readers that she has been able to reach.

Dawn Menge holds a clear credential and masters in Special Education in mod/severe disabilities. She is a BTSA support provider, educational presenter, and previous lead teacher. She is also a candidate at Capella for her PHD in Curriculum and Instruction. She is a mother of three and a grandmother of three. Her books are available on and Barnes and Noble.
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