Educator writes rhyming, topical childrens’ books – Miami Herald
For Gail C. Neal, writing books for and about children just seemed like the natural thing to do. As a veteran teacher of 36 years, she said, â€œI see children all the time who wonâ€™t cooperate with their parents or teachers because they were dealing with adult issues. Although they had parents, the children often were concerned about things they shouldnâ€™t have to worry about. The idea stayed with me and soon I was writing a book on the topic.â€
That was in 2009. While she didnâ€™t start writing right away, Neal said she couldnâ€™t get the idea out of her head. She decided to write a series of books dealing with the theme of children being children. The first book, May I Just Be A Child, is illustrated by her sister, Jan Clark. The second, If My Chores Could Talk!, is illustrated by her close friend, Dr. Joy C. Ruff.
Nealâ€™s idea for the childrenâ€™s books have paid off. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nealâ€™s books will be on display on Writerâ€™s Row at the Miami Book Fair. It is a dream come true for the Sunset Lake Elementary schoolteacher.
â€œIt took me about a year to write the first book because I just kept putting it down and going back to it,â€ Neal said. Once she set her mind to completing the book, the words just seemed to fall into place.
A devout Christian, in her introduction to If My Chores Could Talk!, Neal explains that children are a gift from Almighty God.
â€œThis means that God values children highly. He refers to you as a â€˜reward.â€™ A reward is given to someone who achieves greatness. God considers you as â€˜great.â€™ He loves that you have inquisitive minds and that you are able to believe and trust Him,â€ she wrote in the introduction.
The book teaches young readers about their own private space â€” their room and how to care for it, including the floor, bed, taking out the trash, their pets. Each section includes a journal page for them to write their feelings about their room or their special space and the things that are in their space.
May I Just Be A Child is written in poetry form from a childâ€™s perspective. In the book, the child asks adults to create a world for him to embrace by modeling the right behavior.
Neal uses rhymes to write her books. â€œIâ€™m good at rhyming,â€ she said. â€œI can write a poem in 15 minutes. And I like the rhythm of the rhyme. Children like it, too.â€
Neal, 59, is a native Miamian, born at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She is a graduate of North Miami Beach Senior High and later the University of South Florida, where she graduated with a degree in elementary education. She also has a Master of Science degree in reading from Barry Unniversity, and a Master of Arts degree in Christian counseling from Jacksonville Theological Seminary.
She has been married almost 25 years to Fredereck, a retired Miami passport agent. While they have no biological children, Neal said the youngsters she interacts with daily and over the years are like her very own children.