Author Showcase: Dawn Wynne, Simpler is Better
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 31, 2011
Dawn Wynne is an award-winning educator with more than 15 years experience teaching students from kindergarten through high school, including special needs students, English Language Learners, and at-risk youths. She was recognized and honored with the “Teacher of the Year” award and the “Superintendent’s Award” for her teaching excellence. Wynne earned a Bachelor of Arts in theater at UCLA and holds a Master’s degree in Education from Nova Southeastern University. She has appeared in many television shows including General Hospital, Renegade, and Nightman. Wynne’s short film, “Stalkers“, won numerous awards, including the Audience Choice selection at the Palm Springs and Sarasota Film Festivals. Dawn is embarking on a new journey as she combines her love of education and writing with motherhood, producing her first children’s book, I Remember When. She and her husband, Rob, live in Redondo Beach, California with their young daughter Giovanna.
TCBR: As a former actress and schoolteacher, it makes sense that you have embraced speaking publicly about the importance of reading at an early age. What is the number one tip that you offer to parents of young children?
Dawn Wynne: It is never too early to begin reading with your children. Infants learn to track and follow along almost from birth. You may think they can’t understand at that young age, but months later, they will surprise you by repeating what you read to them earlier. Surround children with books and they will learn to read naturally.
You have worn many “hats” and would be well described as an entrepreneur. At what point did you first realize you wanted to be a published author?
I wrote a short film many years ago and loved the creative process. I have always wanted to return to writing, but didn’t know in what way it would manifest. My grandmother passed away the day before my daughter was born. I didn’t realize the impact it had on me until one night I had a dream about how different my daughter’s life would be not hearing the stories from my grandparents. I kept hearing this voice saying, “I remember when…” with images of old cars, women doing laundry by hand, and other black and white scenes which represented an earlier era. I woke up and remembered every detail of the dream, which is unusual for me. Upon hearing the dream, my husband insisted I begin working on the concept. At that moment I knew that I needed to publish this book.
The book contains typical touch-and-feel elements, such as a washboard to rub, but it also incorporates unique hands-on activities like a rotary phone dial that turns, a record that spins, and turning book pages. In order for children to fully grasp how these items worked I thought it important to function as close as possible to the real thing.
What age group is it intended for?
I originally intended the book for toddlers and preschoolers, but through school readings I have found that elementary school children are equally fascinated by the book.
Is there an intrinsic value that you hope readers will take away from your book?
Sometimes simpler is better. Modern technology can make our lives easier, but it also complicates things. An old fashion dial phone sounds just as good as a cordless, but produces less radiation.
I Remember When … is self-published. If there was one thing that you wish somebody had told you before you began this process, what would it be?
Research, research, research. When I discovered that most board books are produced in house and publishers do not accept outside material, I thought I could self-publish it. To do that, I needed a prototype. I could not find a company in the United States that would make a prototype of that nature. I had to create the prototype myself using materials from a craft store. Then I had to look outside the U.S. to locate a company that could manufacture the board book along with the various elements using fabric, paper, plastic and metal. Then came the challenge of having it imported. I wish someone had told me everything that’s involved with creating a product overseas, it was a learning experience.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is excited and proud. My husband encouraged me to take on this endeavor and is thrilled to see my “dream” come to fruition. My daughter loves playing with “Mommy’s book.” My grandfather used to write stories about growing up as a cowboy in Wyoming and his adventures during World War II. He would type his own books and spiral bind them as presents for our family. He wrote for the local paper and was working on his life story when he passed away. So in a way this book is a tribute to him.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have an idea for another I Remember When… which will be an environmental book of sorts. It will teach the importance of preserving our earth.
Which books from your own childhood would you say have most influenced your life?
Growing up I loved the Nancy Drew mystery books. I could immerse myself and get transported into a different world. I would act out scenes and pretend to be Nancy Drew. The books sparked my imagination and were probably responsible for unleashing my creativity.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
So many people ask me how I made this book and the best advice I can give is to just start writing. When you get your ideas on paper it comes to life.
To find out more about Dawn Wynne and I Remember When…, visit: www.dawnwynne.com
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