(Natalie Torentinos is FLOC’s Recruitment and Outreach Assistant. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.)
Every kid is a superhero.
Just ask Jacqueline Jules, a local children’s book author, who will be reading her stories at For Love of Children’s (FLOC) Book Festival this Saturday in Adams Morgan.
Jules has worked as a teacher and school librarian in Virginia schools, and currently works as an elementary school writing specialist in Arlington Country while meeting editorial demands. Her work has been published in 70 different online and print publications. She has published 22 books.
Her featured work at FLOC’s Book Festival will be Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off, a story of a kid superhero who experiences various adventures with magic shoes. She will also be sharing a poem about a child learning to read called “Learning to Soar,” and singing Thanksgiving songs she wrote herself.
“The work grew organically out of the students I taught and loved,” Jules says. “The idea for Zapato Power and superheroes came from my students. They didn’t have the reading skills for comic books. They wanted a book on their reading level, so I wrote a book not just for them, but about them.”
Jules’ biggest inspiration in her writing is her students, mostly kindergarteners through sixth graders. Her subjects have included tracing the origins of the Constitution to exploring diversity. Two of her recent books were called No English, telling the story of an Argentinean girl moving to a new school, and Turkey Day, about a Vietnamese American family having duck for Thanksgiving dinner. She won the Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Younger Readers for these works.
A voracious reader, Jules’s favorite books growing up were The Secret Garden and The Jungle Book. She always loved reading, but while working as a teacher realized that not all children feel the same way.
Zapato Power fills what could be considered a hole in the children’s book market – bridge books for precocious young readers and struggling older ones.
“I wanted to turn them on to reading, and we didn’t have enough transitional books, only early readers and more advanced,” Jules says. “We needed bridge books for readers who were too old interest-wise and age-wise but whose reading level wasn’t strong enough.”
Jules continues efforts to reach out to this particular demographic, and is working on additional Zapato Power books and middle school grade novels.
She is looking forward to taking part in FLOC’s Book Festival, taking place this Saturday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 1763 Columbia Road.
“Anything that supports literacy is extremely important,” she says.
To learn more about Jacqueline Jules, please go to www.jacquelinejules.com.