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'A whirlwind': Barrie educator set to launch new children's book

'I like to read a story that sparks an activity or a provocation ... but I couldn’t find anything that quite supported my work with loose parts,' says local educator

Angela Odusanya is in the middle of accomplishing two lifelong goals: earning her Masters of Teaching degree and publishing her first children’s book.

The long-time early childhood educator recently penned Amelia's Loose Part Art, a lighthearted story that follows the adventures of Amelia, a young girl who discovers the joy of creating art with everyday objects. 

With “loose parts” being such a big part of her own classroom philosophy, Odusanya said she felt there was a big gap in the literature in that area of early childhood education, noting she initially came up with the concept about five years ago.

“I like to read a story that integrates more literacy throughout the day. I like to read a story that sparks an activity or a provocation — an invitation to learning that extends from the literature we just shared — but I couldn’t find anything that quite supported my work with loose parts," said Odusanya.

Loose parts, she explained, refers to any item made available to children to use in their own creative ways.

“There’s no predetermined outcome with the materials that they are given. That’s sort of a philosophy I have in my own classroom when working with young children,” she said, adding examples include rocks, pine cones, buttons and scrap fabric.

“It’s really limitless, as long as I am not telling them exactly what they are supposed to do with them, then they become parts.”

Odusanya has been sitting on the idea for the book for a while, telling BarrieToday she decided to take advantage of being on a leave of absence from her work to finally put pen to paper and create the story that’s been ruminating in her brain all these years. 

“As much as a Masters of Teaching is a lot of work, I have found myself having extra time to dedicate to this project,” she said. 

Seeing her idea finally come to fruition, she admitted, has been pretty amazing. 

“This has been a whirlwind of excitement with every milestone that happens: finding the illustrator and seeing (my) character come alive and everything come together," said Odusanya.

"The messages from educators that I have been receiving have made me know that my mission is happening. The fact that it happened while I am doing my masters — and having these two simultaneous accomplishments — I am definitely feeling proud of that.”

Odusanya began accepting pre-orders for her debut children's book on June 27. She also reached 100 per cent  of her Kickstarter goal within 72 hours of launching the 30-day online campaign, which she said has recently earned the coveted “Project We Love” badge from Kickstarter.

“We set our goal at the bare minimum to do a print run. Anything more now will improve our marketing and will allow me to print a paperback copy of the book in addition to the hardcover. That’s important to me, because it will make the book more accessible to more families and educators.”

Thirty-six books have already been pledged to be donated to local charities, she added, noting the campaign includes a "donate a book'' option which allows people to redirect their purchased books to local charities.

Her plan, she said, is to split the donated books between Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Sick Kids in Toronto and Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket as well as The Children’s Book Bank in Toronto.

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About the Author: Nikki Cole

Nikki Cole has been a community issues reporter for BarrieToday since February, 2021
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