VCS Educator Authors Inspiring Children's Books
Little Emery is nervous about the first day in his new kindergarten class, but perks up quickly when he’s able to read the word “ball,” shares a fun fact about fish during story time, and makes new friends. His joy is evident when his Mom and Dad pick him up after school.
Educator and author Shontell Woods set out to show everyday life experiences in a positive, encouraging way in her first children’s book, “Emery Takes on Kindergarten.” One of her priorities was creating a main character who is African-American.
When Woods’ son Jaxon was born 5 years ago, there were few minorities among the main characters in his storybooks. Woods had a difficult childbirth, and she was released from the hospital before her baby. Although she never planned to become an author, writing the book proved therapeutic for her as she navigated postpartum depression.
Woods is a Professional Learning Specialist for Volusia County Schools after many years as a teacher and academic coach. She wrote a second book, “Emery Takes Flight,” in which Emery visits five other countries, last year. Her book series was inspired by her love of children from all backgrounds and commitment to instilling the importance of literature in students.
“I’m constantly looking up information on curriculum and different literature to help teachers with resources to build strong relationships with their students while providing instruction,” said Woods, who earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Reading, and an Educational Specialist degree in K-12 Instructional Leadership.
As word spread about her books, Woods has been invited into many Volusia County Schools classrooms to read her books and share with students how she became an author.
VCS Early Learning Coordinator Wendy Reaves heard of Woods’ first book and asked her to collaborate with VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) classes. Woods has been on a county-wide tour of VPK classes this spring, reading “Emery Takes on Kindergarten” to little ones about to take on kindergarten themselves. Throughout the book, the children hear Emery’s Dad say, “You will BE great because you ARE great!” They’re excited by the story – and it always sparks a conversation that helps put them at ease.
“I encourage students be the best version of themselves, despite any adversities,” Woods said. “It’s so much fun to share my stories and have great conversations with the students and teachers. I love to spread the joy of reading to students and hope that they enjoyed our time together just as much as I did.”
Woods’ books are available through Amazon. Stay tuned for Emery’s next adventure!