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I Am Thankful

I Am Thankful uses simple sentences and alliterative nouns in an interactive exploration of the many reasons toddlers have to be grateful.

Photo of Paul Rondema

Written by

I am thankful for strawberries,

And slides.

I am thankful for babies,

And birds,

And boats,

And books.

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for food,

And fountains,

And fish,

For blankets,

And bells,

And balls,

For music,

And milk,

And monkeys,

And minty toothpaste.

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for parks,

And pizza,

And parties,

And pets,

For swings,

And sunshine,

And Sesame Street,

And swimming.

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for my friends.

I am thankful for my family.

What are you thankful for?

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

I Am Thankful provides urban toddlers and their caregivers a chance to reflect on their many reasons for gratitude. The book sparks conversation as well as lays a foundation for literacy by using alliteration and repetition of Tier 1 words and simple sentence structures. It is intentionally open ended to provide space for individualization so that the book can be used with children of varying ages and can change with a child as she ages. I also have ideas for extension activities.

Share your suggested book title

I Am Thankful

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

I Am Thankful is rooted in the twin desires of children to both interact and create. While children love to listen to books, there is an inherent desire among all humans to contribute to a conversation. This book lays the foundation for interaction and creation of the book experience. I Am Thankful offers caregivers a chance to introduce the concept of initial sounds and the letters used to represent those sounds. This is especially beneficial for older children who will listen to this book (3 years and up) who are just learning to link letters with their sounds. The questions that are periodically asked of the child allow children to explore vocabulary as they personalize the book to their own lives while also providing caregivers an opportunity to introduce new and varied vocabulary. Finally, I do not have space here to elaborate on the work of Vygotsky (ZPD) or Piaget (how the text bridges the Sensorimotor and Preoperational stages), but will gladly share with more space.

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

I wrote I Am Thankful in an attempt to capture the most memorable and formative experiences of a child. Given the vast range of experiences in a child's life and my desire to keep the text accessible to toddlers, I was forced to pick carefully the experiences represented. I chose items that will be recognizable to all children, but will resonate with toddlers who live in the Philadelphia area. In addition to the opportunities highlighted in the illustration section of this proposal, there are many other chances for illustrations that match the experiences of an urban, multicultural and multi-generational audience, thus giving more chances for readers and listeners to connect with the book.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Website URL (optional question)

Tell us more about you / your team

Having spent much of my childhood in China (Xinxiang, Henan Province) and Nigeria (Jos, Plateau State), I value stories and books that present a multicultural perspective and foster an inclusive world view. As a writer and as a teacher, I strive to promote hope and a growth mindset in my readers and my students. I currently teach at Reynolds Middle School, a large and diverse middle school outside Portland, Oregon. In addition to teaching, I coach and have helped with the after school program. I live with my wife and daughter. Prior to teaching at Reynolds Middle School I worked at Concordia University-Portland, Self Enhancement Inc. (an organization dedicated to helping urban, under-served youth realize their full potential) and ran the after school program for a local daycare.

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

The images that will accompany the text will be identifiable to all kids regardless of location. Many of the items have been chosen, however, to resonate with children from the Philadelphia area. These include: Strawberries-Linvilla Orchards Strawberry Festival Slides-Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide Boats-Spruce Street Harbor Park Fountains-Dilworth Park Fish-Adventure Aquarium Bells-Liberty Bell Monkeys-Philadelphia Zoo Parks-Franklin Square Sesame Street-Sesame Place

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

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

The Sea Star War; Writers in the Know, September, 2018 Grandma's Scissors; Better Than Starbucks, July, 2018 Come My Love; Edify Fiction, forthcoming Carolina's Treasure; Dime Show Review; August, 2018; also to be published in a forthcoming issue of Oracle To Catch a Leprechaun; Bangalore Review; October, 2018 A Blessing; Torrid Literary Journal; January, 2019; also to be published in a forthcoming issue of Oracle Lighter Days; Writers in the Know; Spring, 2018 And others.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

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


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jennifer Buis

Paul, Nice story! It reminds me of everyone sitting around the table at Thanksgiving! Our family has a tradition to always go around the table and tell what we are thankful for each year! Your manuscript is a perfect book for children, parents, grandparents and caregivers!

Jennifer Buis
Author of Buddy Goes To Clark Park in West Philadelphia
( Based on a true story and told through the eyes of Buddy our rescue dog.)

Photo of Paul Rondema

Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate your comment.

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