Perham teacher is also a published author
Though her official occupation is teaching children how to read at Perham's Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, Detroit Lakes native Nancy Brekke is making quite a name for herself as a children's book author.
Her first book, "But Grandma Didn't Mind," was published by Raven Publishing Company in 2004, and two others in the series, "But That's OK with Grandpa" and "'Cause She's My Sister," soon followed.
Now, Brekke is busily working on manuscripts for the Kaleidoscope Series, published by Hameray Publishing of San Diego.
"I love to write," she said. "I'm in my own world when I write. It's a neat feeling to be able to sit and write and block everything else out for a while."
Three of her manuscripts have been accepted for the series, and two have already been published.
The first of her books to be featured in the Kaleidoscope Series, "Max, Our School Dog," features photos of Brekke's own pooch -- who is, not uncoincidentally, named Max.
The book's photographs, which were taken by Detroit Lakes photographer Laura Wagoner, also feature three members of Brekke's family: nephew Trey Seebold of Detroit Lakes, and nieces Lila and Isabelle Henderson, of Woodbury, Minn.
Using photographic illustrations featuring members of her own family is a practice Brekke has employed before: Her first book included photographs of her grandmother, Jenny, and brother, Rich Schram.
Brekke's second book in the Kaleidoscope Series incorporates artistic illustrations rather than photographs, and has April Fool's Day -- or, as the book defines it, Silly Day -- as its focus.
A third manuscript of Brekke's, about cross country skiing, has been accepted for the second phase of the Kaleidoscope Series, slated for publication in 2011. This book doesn't yet have an official title, Brekke noted.
The Kaleidoscope Series from Hameray is unique, because the books in the series are written by people who actually teach reading, she said.
"They thought teachers would understand their students' needs, and the type of books that would help them," Brekke explained.
Brekke is a teacher of both Reading Recovery for first graders, as well as a Leveled Literacy Instruction (LLI) for second graders at Heart of the Lakes Elementary. Each of these programs involves teaching students who need "a little extra boost" in their reading skills, she said.
Her teacher trainer for Reading Recovery had sent her an e-mail about a writing contest for reading teachers, who were being asked to submit manuscripts for a new children's book series.
Each person could submit up to 10 manuscripts for the contest. In all, a total of 150 books will be included in the Kaleidoscope series, which consists of three phases.
Brekke's first two books in the series were part of the first phase; the third book will be part of the second phase. She doesn't yet know if she will have any of her writing included in the third phase.
She said she would enjoy the opportunity to travel to San Diego one day, and visit the home of Hameray Publishing. She is impressed by the company's owners, whom she said "really want to help struggling readers" with this book series.
"This company goes all over the world, and publishes in different languages," she added.
As for what she likes to write about, Brekke said, "I think back to the things that were really fun for me as a kid.
"To write books for kids, my feeling is you really have to think like a child, and use the language of a child, so they can relate to it," she added.