Susan Hepler

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2602 Valley Drive
Alexandria, Virginia 22302
(703) 549-0753
susanhep@comcast.net

Even when I didn't notice it, my life was always filled with books. I grew up in Mt.Pleasant, Michigan, where my father was an English professor at what was then called Central Michigan College of Education. He read aloud classics as I sat scrunched up by his side: Alice's adventures, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Winnie and Christopher Robin and others. (No one in my house knew about the Newbery or Caldecott Awards then). He had what seemed to be miles of books which I consumed indiscriminately. Summers I spent in the college library browsing through bound copies of old magazines or I bicycled to the public library to select four or five books to clamp on my bike rack and take to some remote spot to read.

My father collected old books and used to buy them in lots at auctions. I had read most of Alger by the time I was 10. I also owned a number of old basal textbooks from McGuffey to the 1930s containing folktales, didactic stories, and hoary but stirring poetry. In the summers, he sometimes drove a truck for a bookstore that distributed elementary text and trade books to Michigan's lower peninsula. So I had an excuse to sit amid the elementary textbooks and meager supply of trade books and read. The bookstore radio broadcast the "Sons of the Pioneers" program at 4:00 and "Sky King" at 4:30. I still associate "drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweed" with a good late afternoon read and a warning that I'd better get home for dinner.

A stint in publishing, plus numerous teaching and other jobs finally led me to the Ohio State University where I met Charlotte Huck and changed my life's direction. Or found it again. In the late 70s, Charlotte had created a children's literature program that included nearly a dozen courses so I was able to immerse myself in books once again while teaching in an innovative undergraduate education program. As I earned a degree in Children's Literature, Language Arts, and Reading, l saw first hand in dozens of schools how children's literature raised readers.

Being a co-author of Children's Literature in the Elementary School enabled me to justify reading and continuing to own, much to my family's delight or consternation, a large number of children's books. In addition to being a reviewer for various journals and School Library Journal since 1983, I continue to write about books, children, and classrooms. I also work with children's book connections in school systems; for public television programs; in social studies, science or language arts curricula; with adult professionals and parents; and on a volunteer basis, with kids.

 

My Books

Books Your Kids Will Talk About! A Guide to Children's Literature for Teachers and Parents (K-6)
by Susan Hepler and Maria Salvadore
National Education Association, 2003.
ISBN 0-8106-2051-0

Books Your Kids Will Talk About! includes over 400 annotated children's book titles,(half of which were published since 2000. Titles are arranged in ten thematic chapters: Living in a Family; Going to School; Making Friends; Connecting to Communities; Looking at the World; Looking in a Mirror; Laughing Together; Getting Through Tough Times; Making a Difference; and Exploring Imagination. Each annotation suggests a grade level where this book will have the most power K-6, some ideas and themes to talk about, and a way to extend the book's main ideas in a child's life. In addition, ten well-known authors of children's book offer insight into their work, while ten other short takes feature people whose lives have changed because of a book. The last section suggests overarching questions and activites plus more related titles to guide teachers and other adults who wish to help children explore aspects of a theme in depth by reading several books. Books Your Kids Will Talk About! hopes to inspire a community of readers, both child and adult, who love to talk about books, share their favorite titles, and discuss the ideas these books evoke.

Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature
9th edition revised by Barbara Kiefer, with Susan Hepler and Janet Hickman
McGraw-Hill, 2007 ISBN 0073310212

This classic text in print since 1961 has been read by thousands of students, teachers, and librarians who return to it as a reliable resource and reference. This ninth edition contains three major sections: theories and current research about how children grow and respond to books; a lively discussion of notable books in each of nine genres; and practical information for setting up and evaluating elementary and middle school curriculum to enhance children's reading. Included are more than 4,000 children's literature suggestions, full-color illustrations, useful charts, real-life classroom accounts, and specific boxed guidelines for developing literature programs, and evaluating books.

"Nonfiction Books for Children: New Directions, New Challenges" in
Making Facts Come Alive: Choosing Quality Nonfiction Literature K-8, 2nd ed..
Jan Kristo and Rosemary Bamford, eds. Cambridge, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, 2003.

"The Blue Pages" in
Conversations: Strategies for Teaching, Learning, and Evaluating.
Regie Routman, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.

"Books on the Menu"
A program created by Reading Is Fundamental for Transmedia Network Inc's Campaign to Inspire Young People to Read and Learn.
Washington, DC, 1997.

"The Writing Life" Parts 1 and 2
Book Links. March and November 1997.

"Teachers as Readers: Starting a Book Discussion Group"
Video and supporting booklet, available from International Reading Association, 1996.

"Celebration: Celebrate the Earth".
Book Links. March, 1996.

"Putting It All Together:
Linking Literature and Language Use through Thematic Units" with Barbara Chatton in
Books that Invite Talk, Wonder, and Play.
Amy McClure and Jan Kristo, eds. Champaign-Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996.

"Once They All Believed in Dragons" in
Battling Dragons: Issues and Controversy in Children's Literature
.
Susan Lehr, ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995.

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