When retired teacher Christine Pleiman set out to write her first children's book, "My Boy," she did so on a mission to become a better writer and teacher.
"This book helps kids see that we can find writing ideas in our very simple and boring lives," Pleiman said. "There is beauty in those small moments."
She traveled back to a time when her four children were small. Her son, Josh, had recently adopted a golden retriever named Zak. The two of them became the best of friends.
Pleiman sat down to write their story in 2004, wondering what the bushy-tailed retriever thought about the bond they had shared. She decided the story would best be told through a dog's point of view.
Pleiman connected with National Writing Project (NWP). NWP is the nation’s largest network of educators focused on improving writing and learning in schools. Pleiman met teachers of all levels and specialties.
"When you go through writing process, you have a lot more compassion for kids who are learning to write," she said. "You find different ways to teach them. An early childhood education teacher taught us about the many processes that are happening when a young child sits down to write, such as making sure they have a pencil. I have learned a lot from other teachers."
In order to teach through written work, "My Boy" had to captivate interests by telling stories young readers and writers could easily relate to.
"In the book, a dog and his boy go on little adventures together," Pleiman said. "Sometimes they comfort each other, like when Zak goes to veterinarians office. Zak and Josh went everywhere together."
The Pleimans often visited Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a family. After 30 years of teaching for Glawdin Community Schools, she and her husband, Joe, felt a move to Newberry was in order.
Pleiman spent three years teaching at Three Lakes Academy in Curtis, and three more years teaching at Tahquamenon Area Schools. She placed her book on the back shelf until 2020.
"When we were on lock down and teaching virtually, I had more time to pursue it," said Pleiman, who entered the book into a contests offered through NWP. "I just wanted to see if anyone would be interested."
Pleiman retired from teaching in 2021, around the time a publisher contacted her. "My Boy" was published on Jan. 26, 2023 by Olympia Publishers. It was illustrated by A. Quadir.
"My Boy" is a 31-page children's book that can be purchased on Amazon, eBay or Olympia Publishers. Local bookstores and libraries are expected to carry the book soon.
"My Boy" is only the beginning for Pleiman, who plans on writing more in the future. Her latest is a book called, "Seek a 28-day Journey to Consistent Bible Study." Pleiman is currently seeking publishing for this guide to Bible study.