On today’s episode the positive and perseverant Cindy Rodriguez talks about the importance of embracing opportunities, growth mindset, and developing relationships in and out of the classroom.
Cindy talks about her Robert Frost fork in the road moment. She had one traditional book published but no other forthcoming projects. She could have quit writing after reaching her goal of becoming a published author and focused on becoming the best educator possible. Instead, after hearing Kwame Alexander speak, she decided to just say yes to whatever writing opportunities came her way.
This meant she had to embrace a growth mindset. Could she write a novel about volleyball even though she knew nothing about volleyball?
Could she write a graphic nonfiction novel even though she had no idea how to write a graphic novel script?
Finally, Cindy talks about the importance of developing relationships in and out of the classroom. Cindy and I talk about the fact that if educators intend to teach students anything, that the educator must first develop a relationship with her students. Without that relationship foundation, students won't learn. Outside of the classroom in the writing world, relationships are just as important. Cindy worked hard joining Facebook work-for-hire groups and connecting on Twitter with editors who had work-for-hire projects. It paid off! Cindy has published several work-for-hire titles including The Doomed Search for the Lost City of Z and the forthcoming book The Mount Everest Disaster of 1996.
Cindy recommends that middle school classrooms and libraries have the following titles:
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
In addition to being the 2022 Newbery Winner, The Last Cuentista pairs well with The Giver by Lois Lowry, a standard book in many middle school ELA curriculums.
Treasure Tracks by S.A. Rodriguez
Unlike The Last Cuentista, this book is a fun read. It's about a boy who lives in the Florida Keys, and he's a deep sea diver. His grandfather has been searching for Spanish gold and when his abuelo gets sick, the main character takes charge of the search. Cindy says this book is perfect for reticent readers because it's short and an easy read.
City Spies by James Ponti
This is a series, and I read one of the titles over the summer, too. I agree with Cindy that these books are definitely worth picking up. MI6, the British version of the CIA, recruits 12-16-year-olds into their agency to go on missions for peace and justice. A great pick for kids who think outside the box.
If you want to be entered to win a book from Cindy or a thirty-minute virtual classroom visit with her, leave a comment below.
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Finally, I want to give a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. If you haven’t read Sarah’s book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, check it out. It’s on the ALA 2021 Rainbow List and Bank Street's Best Children's Books 2021.
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