In his blog, Ken Baker introduces himself as a children’s author, freelance writer, husband, and father of five. But he still finds time for his family whether it is on boating trips, camping, playing basketball or simply coaching his kids on different sports. He lives an active lifestyle in Utah but he was born and raised in California Bay Area.
Ken Baker’s blogs also contain helpful tips for teachers and parents. In addition, he also includes reviews of several picture books for kids. Just like his three published picture books for children, his blog contains engaging topics, which are not just helpful but also inspiring.
It is Ken’s dream to inspire more kids to read and write and he believes in empowering adults, writers, parents, and teachers, to make this goal possible. He offers them various tools on his website to help kids become more effective and also motivate them to read and write. Additionally, he is always up for a school visit to encourage reading and writing in children.
For those who are not familiar with Old MacDonald had a Dragon and Cow Can’t Sleep, what are they about?
As the title suggests, Old MacDonald had a Dragon is a picture book about Old MacDonald and a dragon. Even though farms and dragons don’t mix, Old MacDonald loves to sing about the new dragon on his farm until the animals start to complain and disappear.
The title in Cow Can’t Sleep is a giveaway too. It tells the story of Belle, who finds the hay in the barn too scratchy to sleep on. So, she goes on the hunt for a more comfortable place to sleep and creates considerable chaos for the other farm animals and the farmer.
What’s your favorite part of writing for kids?
I love the joy that children derive from reading, and I love being part of the process that feeds that joy. Also, reading is such a crucial aspect of a child’s development and future success. If I can write a book that a child wants to read, and maybe even hooks them into becoming a lifetime reader, then I consider that a major success.
You do school visits as well. How important is that?
I look at school visits as a great way to fuel students’ desire to become readers as well as writers. The two main presentations I give at schools focus on those two areas. One presentations introduces students to a wide variety of different types of books and helps get them excited about reading. My other presentation teaches the basic concepts of creating stories using characters, setting and plot in a fun way. We even create a story together as a group during the presentation. Both presentations seem to have the desired effect, getting kids interested in and excited about reading and writing.
Do you create your own lesson plans? If so, how do you put them together?
Although, I’m not a professionally trained teacher myself, I love teaching. I’ve taught throughout my life as part of my career, as part of my religious life and in my family with my children. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But I realize that elementary school teachers have a very tough job. I hope that the few lesson plans I create can make their job a little easier, while at the same facilitating cross-curricular teaching with the use of children’s literature. To create my lesson plans, I studied a variety of different lessons to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t, and then I looked at how my different books could be used to successfully and creatively teach certain topics. My most popular lesson plans teach Comparing and Contrasting (http://www.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplancompare.html), Narrative Writing (http://www.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplanwriting.htm), Phonemic Alliteration (http://www.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplanalliteration.html), and the Five Senses (http://www.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplansenses.htm).
What advice do you have for authors who want to write for kids?
Read a lot of children’s books, especially the ones that are being written today. Go to children’s writing conferences and workshops to not only learn the necessary skills, but to network with people who can help you become a better writer and perhaps open a few doors for you too. Participate in critique groups with other children’s authors. And keep on writing. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to succeed in this business.
You’ve published traditionally. Any thoughts on going indie?
The traditional publishing route is a very difficult one, but it has its own rewards. It gives you the backing of an entire organization with significant expertise and experience in getting your book out there. Sure, it doesn’t always turn out the way you want, but I don’t imagine going indie does either. I can see that there are a lot of advantages to going indie, especially with the impact of digital publishing. Still, I prefer my focus to be on my writing and not so much on the marketing end. Even though I do a lot of marketing on my own now, to succeed as an independent, I would have to do so much more than I do now. However, there might come a time and a situation where I decide to go that route with certain of my stories. We’ll have to wait and see.