Excerpt from “Meet The Boomer Sisters”

I wrote Meet The Boomer Sisters last year, as a Christmas present to my two daughters (who naturally served as an inspiration for the two main characters). In the process of writing, I quickly learned that even fictional characters have a way of determining their own fates, and my carefully planned plot ended up developing a life of its own.

Ultimately, I think this book is about ideas, with several lessons on courage, learning and love thrown in for good measure. Most of the action takes place at school, and the really significant learning is generally self-directed and self-selected by the awesome kids.

This excerpt comes from Chapter 5. It’s the first day of class at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. The teacher, Mr. Federico, is greeting his class, which includes BJ Boomer, and briefly explaining his perspective on learning.

  Once attendance was finished, the boy named Brian Bard raised his hand again.
“What are you going to teach us this year?” he asked.

  “Teach you?” replied Mr. Federico in a surprised sounding voice. “Why, I’m not sure I’ll teach anyone anything at all, although I do hope you learn a lot in our time together. The thing is, most things worth learning cannot be taught, you know.”

  This certainly got the kids attention.

  “Well, what about reading?” asked Emma, her red hair swirling as she bounced up and down. “Knowing how to read is worth knowing, isn’t it?"

  “Of course, of course! You really are very smart already, aren’t you? Yes, reading is important, and it’s something your parents and teachers can show you how to do. But here’s a secret ”“ your parents and teachers don’t really want to teach you how to read.”

  BJ gasped, and several other students looked around confusedly.

  “No,” Mr. Federico continued with a grin, "We want to teach you to love to read. That’s what really matters, and sadly, we can’t actually teach you that. Nobody can. All we can do is teach you how to read, and hope you will learn to love it on your own. And knowing how to read isn’t worth much if you have not also learned to love reading.”

  “So does that mean we don’t have to learn anything this year? Ha!” asked Emma with a loud laugh.

  “In a way, yes. You don’t actually have to learn anything. Of course, if you don’t learn certain things, you’ll be back here in fourth grade again next year, to try again. And I do hope you all learn lots of fun things, but mostly”” he paused and looked around the room, “I hope you learn to love learning.”

(Read a complete preview of Meet The Boomer Sisters at Rogue Press – or pick up a copy for $11.95)

Boomer_cover

From The Back Cover: When BJ and JB Boomer move to a new town, they are excited to be living near their funny Uncle Q. His shop is a fantastic wonderland of mystery, full of mirrors, colors and flying machines.

But… on the first day of school, things take a turn for the worse when they discover the new librarian has emptied the entire library.

Now, it’s up to the Boomer sisters to take action. Together with some special helpers, they launch a plan to take back the school, rescue the real library books and re-enthuse their classmates. (for Grades 2-4)


Dan Ward is the author of several books, including The Radical Elements of Radical Success, Meet The Boomer Sisters and The Desert. He is also the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of an online program management ‘zine called Rogue Project Leader. When not writing or playing with his two daughters, he serves as an engineering officer in the US Air Force.

* * * * *

9/23 Update by Rosa: I snagged this from Dan’s blog:

Lulu1

Dan shares, “I recently had the rare pleasure of visiting both my daughters classrooms during the school day, to read some chapters of my kid’s novel, Meet The Boomer Sisters. The kids seemed to have a great time, and I know I sure did.

I think this shot really captures the spirit of the moment. As you can see, Bethany was kind enough to help act out some of the scenes.”

Comments

  1. says

    You know you’ve made it – reprise

    How does one teach your children to love to read?
    From our own experience, sharing the love and passion for reading is what worked for us. By modeling the good things we got from books, the good times, Dolores and I had reading, Allison and Caro…

  2. says

    You have added such a nice flavor to our Learning Forum Dan! As one who knows she must continually edit and re-edit, I have great admiration for those who can write children’s books with messages for all ages who read and share them – and you my friend, have that talent in abundance!
    This last blurb is the one leaving me thinking that we need to extend this Joyful Jubilant Learning party somewhat… maybe the boomer sisters can write something for next year?
    “Now, it’s up to the Boomer sisters to take action. Together with some special helpers, they launch a plan to take back the school, rescue the real library books and re-enthuse their classmates.”
    It does make the point that no matter what our age group, we get inspired by our peers much more readily than by the “adults” in our lives. At this ripe old age of mine, I know my mom still needs great patience with me!

  3. says

    Great article and tribute to the huge undertaking teachers assume in shaping our future. The quest for life-long learning does start when, as children, we see the passion of our teachers and parents for reading, exploring and questioning. To often we forget what our role is not always to teach, but to inspire our children. Mahalo for writing this great story and sharing your mana’o for learning.

  4. says

    Meet the Boomer Sisters sounds like a ton of fun, Dan! With back-to-school upon us, you picked a great time for the excerpt. I heard the same tone from my 4-year old’s Pre-K teacher at meet-the-teacher night last week.
    “I want them to learn,” she explained, “But I want them to enjoy it, too. I like to give them plenty of time to explore the lessons, letters, words, and numbers. It doesn’t need to be like work. They will let us know when they are ready start reading and doing math.”
    You have both suggested the same definition of a teacher – one who facilitates learning.

  5. says

    Wow, thanks everyone for the fantastic response. I’m a bit overwhelmed, and am so glad to see how well received the Boomer Sisters are.
    For those who are wondering, I do plan to have the second Boomer Sisters book done in time for Christmas – a perfect present for the little (and not so little) ones in your life.
    A hundred thousand mahalo’s to you all (if I may mix my island thank-you’s, combining a little Irish with the Aloha).

  6. Charleen Quella says

    As an educator and a lover of reading myself, how could I not applaud the Boomer Sisters? (Especially since I know them!) Great Job Dan!
    Charleen Rose

  7. says

    Dan – What a perfect excerpt for this month’s learning adventure. It’s almost like you wrote it just for this time. I really like the concept of not just learning “how” to do something, but to actually “love” learning how to do it and “love” doing it.
    That’s a little trickier isn’t it?
    tim

  8. says

    Thanks again for all the wonderful discussion about this stuff!
    Someone once pointed out that the root of the english word educate comes from a latin term that means “to draw out,” but in our schools these days we often act as if it means “to stuff in.”
    Drawing out is a fundamentally different activity than stuffing in… if for no other reason than we draw out the person, but stuff in data. It seems to me educators would do well to focus on dealing with the person rather than treating information as their primary area of attention.
    Your thoughts?

  9. says

    Ah Dan! Exceptional!
    Core, core, crucially core message of my MWA philosophy — constant mentoring to the managers and leaders we coach (and to give credit where credit is due, major point in the Donald Clifton/Marcus Buckingham books): Don’t try to change people or put “in” what’s not there: Draw out, celebrate, and capitalize on what is already within them… Love them for who they are and what they are capable of. Believe in them, partner with them, and you set the best possible environment for their learning.

  10. says

    One of the coolest people I ever worked for, LtCol Joe Wotton, always used to say “it’s far easier to direct energy than create it.”
    He had a real gift for saying yes to crazy projects and proposals, because he knew that a self-directed, self-initiated project would be tackled with passion and excellence, and that forcing people to do a bunch of stuff they don’t care about leads to apathy and low quality outcomes…
    He also knew that if he let us do the cool stuff, we’d be much more willing to engage on the necessary-but-less-exciting parts of the job when he asked (and maybe even before he asked).

  11. says

    That word “cool” keeps coming up doesn’t it.
    We need way more LtCol Joe Wottons, and that’s the “cool” thing about our Ho ‘ohana Community —we have a lot of them!
    In business, this is the advantage of being in management and leadership positions: In the guise of being more “in control” at the top of the food chain, we have the leverage to be brave, and support our people when they live in the land of experiments, pilot projects, and test runs on whacky but loaded-with-potential ideas. The question is, do we seize this advantage, and use our leverage in the best sense of the word?

  12. says

    Rosa,
    Thanks for inviting Dan to contribute to your forum here. I wanted to share what I think is an interesting tidbit, although a little off subject. Dan informed some of his colleagues, including myself, of his invitation to contribute to your forum a little while ago. It just so happens that this month was also the month that my wife and I made a visit to Hawaii (Maui) ourselves for the first time. Having just returned, this link to your page has special significance…we absolutely fell in love with the Islands and the lifestyle. I suspect everyone says this, but how different and desirable it is than what my wife and I experience on a daily basis back home. How can you not be inspired by the Islands? I’m glad to see that you have injected this culture into the “business” world. That world so often takes things too serious thereby cutting off any real genuineness leaving me with the stale taste of fake bread. Business doesn’t need or have to be that way. It should be more. It should be about passion, energy, enthusiasm…things that are real. Thanks for being yet another voice calling for real conversations in the spirit of the “Bazaar”. And thanks for including Dan in your conversation. Mahalo! (I absolutely love that word!)

  13. says

    Aloha Gabe, welcome to Talking Story and to our Ho‘ohana Community. Maui does have a way of weaving its’ spirit into your heart, doesn’t it! The magic happened because you were most receptive to it though; having “mahalo” as a value that resonates with you tells me you do live it, being thankful for all those elements which make our lives so precious.
    You can go “off topic” here any time you wish to, when it comes to the talk story of how we can bring more dignity, honor, and nobility to the world of business. It’s a world of faults with ever-possible improvements begging to be made, however I am an optimist at heart who loves the art and science of business, and the empowering dynamics of the workplace. The Hawaiian culture does give us the opportunity to view it through a fresh lens, and we are eager to welcome you into the conversation here. (We’ll keep Dan around too!)