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I'm Going To Work Now

This story explores childrens' understanding of their caregivers' jobs and how work affects relationships at home.

Photo of pam abrams
4 2

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Mami feed the horses now? [Art note: Central American mother working at the barns on the backstretch of a race course at dawn; drops toddler off at day care.]

Yes, my beauty.

And when I pick you up you can ride on my back and shout, "Giddy up, giddy up!"

Daddy go to school now? [Little boy helping his Anglo dad put his belt through the loopholes]

Yes, my kiddo.

And when I come home we will go to the playground and if there's enough wind fly our kite in the park.

Mi Granny go on the train now? [Jamaican Grandmother taking the train; works in a healthcare setting]

Yes, my sweet potato.

And tomorrow we will dig in the garden and plant seeds so our vegetables will grow.

Poppy Eat, Eat now? [Greek-American father putting on his restaurant T-shirt & baseball cap]

Yes, my little man.

And tomorrow let's make strawberry smoothies in the blender. Or would you prefer blueberry?

Má go the store now? [Vietnamese mom as cashier in a shop]

Yes, my cô gái.

And when I pick you up we can stop at the pet shop. Remember the goldfish and clownfish swimming in their bowls?

Pop Pop go to the white house now? [Indian doorman working at a white brick apartment building]

Yes, my princess.

And when we get home we can build a skyscraper up and up and up to the clouds.

Dada work, dada work, dada work! [Hispanic dad putting on his butcher's apron]

Si, mi pollito.

And tonight we can roll the meat in our palms to make big, round meatballs. Or should we cook chicken?

Mama go sing for the people now? [Anglo mother off to work in the late afternoon for her night job singing in a theater.]

Yes, my baby.

And when I see you in the morning we will sing Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin', and dance around the living room.

Papa ride the train now? [Chinese father in a business suit works in a downtown office building.]

Yes, my angel.

And when I get home tonight I will read you a bedtime story. Which book will you choose? Put it somewhere special. Keep it safe. I will see you later. I will see you soon.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

A reflection on how young children perceive and talk about where their mothers, fathers, grandparents, or other primary caregivers go--and what they do--when they "go to work." I have been collecting stories and children's actual language, which is often charming and a window for the reader into how children think and feel. The theme is that even while adults go to work, they come home again to play, sing, cuddle, and laugh in ways imitative of the work they do.

Share your suggested book title

I'm Going To Work Now

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

Rhyme, repetition, and reflection of a child's own world are the tenets of early childhood literacy that inform this draft. I put a positive spin with an upbeat tone to describe the working lives of parents/caregivers rather than portray a situation fraught with sadness, separation anxiety, or guilt. My aim is to help children feel good about the work their caregivers do, and confident that they always come home. I've used children's real language as a way to engage the adult reader, picking up on Sesame Street's successful formula of entertaining the adult as well the child. Co-viewing and co-reading are proven strategies to boost language development, and my goal is to create a story that encourages verbal interaction. I hope it inspires questions like, "What does daddy do when he goes to work?" or "What should we do when I pick you up today?" The set-ups in each example use Tier 1 words, and the conclusions add in Tier 2 language (perhaps more sophisticated words can be added).

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I have lived in large urban areas my whole adult life, currently in NYC. If I win the challenge I would spend time in Philadelphia, visiting daycare centers and preschools with an eye and ear towards honing my manuscript to reflect the diversity of the city's families with as much accuracy as possible. I'm interested in refining my use of Philadelphia-area immigrants' native language (Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Dominican- and Mexican-Spanish, Jamaican) with reference to the endearing terms for family members that I've included in my story.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

Absolutely. The children in my book have parents and other primary caregivers who work in a variety of urban professions: restaurant worker, actress in a musical, groom at a race track, executive in an office building, aide at a hospital, etc. In consultation with an editor I would welcome the chance to do more on-the-ground research, supplementing or replacing the examples in this draft of the manuscript. I'm seeking urban authenticity to tell a universal story.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

New York

Location: City

New York

Tell us more about you / your team

Children and early literacy are two of my passions. I was excited by this challenges's expanded definition of parents to include all primary caregivers. For many years I worked in the "parenting" business, writing for and editing magazines, websites, and books, always sensitive to represent grandparents, same-sex couples, extended- and step-family members as (potentially) the primary adult(s) in a child's life. I've also long been interested in the relationship between work and family life (I happily raised my own children while working full-time). Beyond editorial work I have served on many non-profit boards that focus on children, social justice, and advocacy, currently for the Belmont Child Care Association, an organization devoted to supporting the families of the backstretch workers of the New York State racetracks. I also write professionally for children and adults.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Choosing an illustrator is what I would look to an editor and publisher for. Each of vignettes in my story has a set up where the caregiver and child part; a middle where the caregiver is at his or her workplace; and a reunion picking up from day care or at home. I would look for the illustrations to evoke a sense of sweetness in the set ups, urban reality in the middle, and joy, safety and security in the reunion scenes. The artist would need to be able to depict a variety of ethnicities.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Now I Eat My ABCs (Scholastic) Gadgetology (Harvard Common Press) The House that Mouse Built (Downtown Bookworks & Scholastic) Candy 123 (Chronicle) Can I Push the Button (Piggy Toes Press) Numerous magazine articles for Parents, Child, Highlights, Scholastic Parent & Child, More, Oprah, and other periodicals.

Do you have an agent?

  • Yes

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


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Photo of Ashanti Antonio Prescott

I agree with Dawnnbooks, such an interesting perspective

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