Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview with an Author - Betty Jones


This year I have had the pleasure of getting to know Betty Jones, author of “A Child's Seasonal Treasury”. She gave me the inside scoop that she will be releasing a revised edition of this most sought after book, and graciously agreed to an interview with me.

Betty, Your first edition of “A Child's Seasonal Treasury” was printed in 1996. It has been out of print for some time but commands 2 to 6 times the original purchase price on Amazon today.  Why do you think it is in such demand?

B; I can only say that it must have met the needs of the growing numbers of parents and teachers. It is a book that respects this tender time of childhood and wants to create home and school environments that allow Nature to "speak" as the ground for learning.

K; Why haven’t you re-published sooner? 

B; The "Treasury" went out of print in 2009, (unbeknownst to me!) I was blessed to have a legacy left to me by my original graphic designer, Bruce King, to self-publish this 2nd edition with his son, Galen King, owner of LUCID DESIGN in Nelson, New Zealand.

K; In the original book you used a seasonal format to provide a garden that would allow a child’s imagination to unfold and tendril out into a fertile environment for imagination to root and grow. What changes can we look forward to seeing in the new book?

B; Like his father, (a perfectionist!), Galen has brought my book back to life in a beautiful format with all of my own illustrations and much more of my original writing than the 1st edition. Of course, it is still based on the Seasons, and I've tried to emphasize the need to be TRUE to the Nature and Seasonal/Cultural Festivals that speak to child's experiences through their senses and imagination. I added a "Table of Equivalents" for the cooking and baking section so that the "Treasury" recipes could be "translated" into the measurements and temperatures used internationally.

K; How has your life journey’s affected what you have chosen to share and how you presented the information?

B. I was very blessed to be a student at Emerson College in England in the mid-'70's, where my life's journey took a major turn in bringing Rudolf Steiner's body of work "alive", not just in thought but also in practice. Having Margret Meyerkort for my teaching practicum at Wynestones School was a gift beyond imagination. Irene Ellis shepherded the pioneer teachers of Summerfield Waldorf School in Sebastopol, California, and set the seeds for healthy development within the Teachers, the school and the larger community. Travels took me to Maui to help as a student-teacher at Haleakala School, and in the mid-80's I was asked to begin the Waldorf School of the Monterey Peninsula, which 7 years later became one of the first California Waldorf Schools to become a charter school. In 1994, I took a flying leap of faith to New Zealand to begin the Steiner kindergarten at Fossil Bay Farm; unfortunately, due to prior health conditions, I was unable to secure residency, but the good news was that A CHILD'S SEASONAL TREASURY was accepted for publication by Tricycle Press.

K; Do you see this new revised edition as being an extension to that foundation similar to one’s enriching the soil before planting to reap the most bountiful harvest?

B; This is "soul fertilization", and as in sowing seeds, there is the right time to plant, water and wait (patiently) for the roots to take hold and for the young plant to go through the stages it needs to become healthy and fruitful. Every human "seedling" deserves respect of their natural abilities to grow in harmony with themselves and others if allowed time and tender loving care in a safe environment.

K; Is that what motivated you to share this Treasury in a bound volume to children and families so that their lives might be enriched?

B; My greatest wish for the "Treasury" was and still is the intention for Parents and Teachers to have a wonderful collection of Seasonal and Nature based songs, games, verses, finger plays, creative drama and movement, arts, crafts and recipes that speak to the innate joy of learning in the growing child.
Twenty years ago, the TV was the plug-in-drug, and my suggestions on how learning environments can be created to pull children out of the "box" and into interactive play and imagination was the primary goal. Now with the advent of the computer taking precedence over education and teaching-to-the-test, it is ever more imperative to offer this hands and heart "alternative" for early childhood up to 2nd or 3rd grade.

K. What life skills have you instilled upon the pages and is there one thing in the Treasury that “touches” you? If so, why?? 

B; In all respects, I tried to make my choices for early childhood curriculum clear and concise so that it would be easy to follow and would inspire Parents and Teachers to be actively involved with the children in their care.
From the rhythm of the day connecting to the rhythm of the Seasonal changes, I wanted to instill joy and wonder in Nature and a celebration of learning through the senses.
My hope was/is to help Parents and Teachers find the principles of Waldorf Education important enough to explore Rudolf Steiner's philosophy and realize that there are reasons why it is the strongest international school movement in the world. I am awe-inspired as I have been re-visiting the schools I pioneered so long ago, and that these schools have continued to thrive is deeply touching. My favorite thing about this new edition is that I was re-vitalized in my own writing and illustrations, a re-kindling of my soul that makes me happy in spite of my "disabilities".

K. What is the most important thing you would want a parent to take into their heart after reading your book?

B; The most important thing that I want Parents to take to heart after reading my book is: Please Take Time”, whenever possible, to enjoy these seasonal offerings with your children, knowing that You are your child’s first teacher.
We (adults) are often too caught up in the hustle and  bustle of life to remember to "smell the roses", or to be the "example" for our children to “take time” for the "simple things" that life offers.
My greatest wish is that this new edition of A CHILD'S SEASONAL TREASURY will find its' way to Parents and Teachers in countries where English is a 2nd language, and this curriculum will provide a meaningful and delightful way to learn through light-hearted "play", adapted to the cultural and seasonal festivals of all nations with the intention of Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.

K;  After reading your thoughtful and insightful introduction in the first edition I am moved by the love and the joy you feel toward children. 
What obstacles have you had to overcome to produce the revision?

B; The biggest obstacle for me in writing this revision has been my lack of skills and understanding of the "marvels" of the computer-age which I am ignorant (Thank God for Galen and his team at Lucid Design!).
I also realized that PERMISSIONS were necessary to obtain anew and I needed to focus on the MUSIC particularly, as the songs are the works of gifted Teachers within the Waldorf Schools who deserve credit.
Now my most pressing issue is how to market this new self-published edition through LULU, and reach not only Waldorf Schools that have flourished throughout the world, but finding the path to Home-schools, Charter Schools, Pre-schools and Daycare Centers that want a multi-faceted curriculum for this age group.
I want it to be an affordable resource for Parents and Teachers, and there will be both black and white, and full color editions available through LULU soon!
An e-book version will also be available, but I want to emphasize this is for “Adult use as a teaching tool only”, not for children to "read and do"!

K; How many years in the making would you say it took to write the original book?

B; The original book was actually in "seed form" when I pioneered the pre-school for Summerfield Waldorf School in 1977. Barbara Kane, who later created HEARTHSONG, saw my teaching notes and illustrations and thought a book would be wonderful then, but I had no time to devote to writing/compiling a book while "pioneer teaching"!
So it took 20 years to finally get A CHILD'S SEASONAL TREASURY into print, and HEARTHSONG had exclusive rights for its' 1st year of publication (1996) before Tricycle Press gained world rights.
In November 1997, the "Treasury" was awarded a SMITHSONIAN NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOK recommendation and I am still stunned at that honor bestowed as I did not apply for any recognition!

K Thank you Betty, I look forward to, as do many parents, I am sure, to the release of your revised edition of to “A CHILD'S SEASONAL TREASURY”.
I recommend this book as an addition to ever Parents library.
It is currently available on LULU, “A CHILD'S SEASONAL TREASURY”
Also, visit her web site by clicking on her name below to read more about the gems you will find in this book;
Betty Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment