M-W teacher’s first children’s book is published

‘The Shape Family Babies’ teaches kids about geometric shapes

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  • Photo by Nancy Kriz Kristin Hass, a North Main Elementary School third-grade teacher, reads her newly published book, þÄòThe Shape Family Babies,þÄô to students from a colleagueþÄôs class.

— It might be the closest thing to a Harlequin romance book, except it’s about math and written specifically for children.

“The Shape Family Babies,” by North Main Elementary third-grade teacher Kristin Haas, and published by Sylvan Dell Publishing, tells the story of the “geometry” love between a rectangle and rhombus, their marriage and the birth of their triplets.

Different shapes, different ideas

Like any good book, there’s conflict and controversy as relatives of the couple - named Mr. and Mrs. Shape - attempt to inject themselves into what to name the three new additions to the family.

It was simple enough for two of them: Rectangle Jr. and Rhombus Jr.

But what name should the third child have?

The family members, who are all different kinds of shapes, have their own ideas.

“This was a story I told my students and then I wrote it down,” said Haas, who has also taught the fourth- and fifth-grade. “I wrote it and then left it in my computer for five years. I eventually thought I should send it out to publishers, just so I could get a feel for having the manuscript rejected.”

Haas took a chance at sending it to Sylvan Dell Publishing, which specializes in publishing math books for children.

“I hadn’t heard a thing for six months,” she said. “Then one day I received an email saying my manuscript was accepted.”

It was the first publishing house Haas queried.

Haas knows how fortunate she is, as aspiring authors often face rejection time after time by publishing companies looking for that perfect manuscript.

Or, those same writers spend thousands of dollars of their own money to self-publish their books, hoping to recoup their investments through book sales.

Why shouldn't learning 'be silly and fun'

Part of Haas’ pitch included demonstrating how a book about geometry names was aligned with state, Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards standards.

The book also provides teachers with free online resources including teaching activities and interactive quizzes.

“The important thing is that kids have fun while learning,” she said. “There’s no reason why learning shouldn’t be engaging and silly and fun for them.”

The books in your computer

Haas has been reading the book to students throughout the school and is hopeful to be part of community reading events.

And she is also considering a sequel which would focus on numbers.

With her first book now available in book stores and on Amazon.com, Haas offered this advice to aspiring writers of all ages:

“There are so many good authors out there wondering how to get their feet in the door (of a publishing company),” she said. “I’m sure so many people have wonderful books hidden in their computers. I would tell them to put it out there, and see what happens.”

To learn more about the book, visit www.amazon.com.

- Nancy Kriz

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