Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goodness Graces! Ten Short Stories about the Sacraments

Writing this collection of stories about the sacraments was quite a challenge! I wanted to help kids learn about and appreciate the sacraments in a fun, non-preachy way. So I tried to create realistic characters with problems middle grade readers could understand. Instead of lecturing, I tried to make one of the sacraments a natural part of each story, showing how it gave the main character strength and brought him or her closer to God. Some of the stories are humorous; some are serious. Hopefully, kids will find them fun to read and relevant to their own lives!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missed It!

I drive a ’94 Camry. It’s been a good car: few repairs, pretty decent mileage, dependable and comfortable. Recently I noted that the odometer was getting close to the 200,000 mark. Wow! I thought. What a milestone! I planned to wait until the odometer was about to turn and get my husband to join me in the car as I drove past the magic number. How fun would that be? But one day I looked down and saw that the odometer was at 200,187. I had gotten so distracted by my busy life that I missed the big moment!
Okay, a changing odometer isn’t a big deal, but I had to wonder – what else have I missed? Like what happened to the summer? We have a lovely deck, but I sat out there and relaxed only a few times the whole season. And the fall? Well, that’s practically gone, too. I guess it was beautiful, but who noticed? And couldn’t I have spent less time dashing from task to task and more time actually talking to people, enjoying family and friends, appreciating my life?
The years are clicking by faster than the miles on my odometer. If I don’t pull over to look at the view now and then, I’m going to miss everything that matters.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas is coming!

And it'll be here before you know it! Pauline Books and Media has a nice seasonal book out -- Celebrate the Season! Twelve Short Stories for Advent and Christmas. It's a great book for kids 8-12. You can check it out at And, YES, I have some stories in that book!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On the Radio

I had my first ever radio interview this morning on The Catholics Next Door. It was fun, but it went by in a flash! Greg and Jennifer were so nice which was great because I was nervous. (Thanks, you guys!!) I'd love to get feedback from anybody who listened to the broadcast -- I can use your suggestions!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Radio Interview!

I'm being interviewed on the radio! Tune in to The Catholics Next Door on Sirius 159/XM 117 about 11:20 this Thursday (October 21) to hear me talk about my books. (I think there may be a podcast on the website later for those who don't have satellite radio.) The Catholics Next Door are Greg and Jennifer Willits. Their fun program is about all kinds of things -- marriage, kids, pop culture, everyday life, etc. I'm looking forward to talking to them!

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Time for Books by the Banks!

Books by the Banks, a great book festival, is tomorrow, 10-4 at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. Admission is free, but you'll probably want to buy some books! There will be lots of authors there to autograph their books as well as speakers, a kids' area, etc. Check out the website for more information. Hope to see everybody there!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Book by the Banks

My featured book at the Books by the Banks Book Festival is Stepping Stones - The Comic Collection from Pauline Books and Media. This comic book treasury contains the complete “Stepping Stones” series which originally appeared in My Friend: the Catholic Magazine for Kids. Readers can join in the adventures of Denver, Chantal, Suki, and Alberto as they journey, step by step, along the path toward God. The friends deal with everyday concerns such as peer pressure, bullying, community service projects, family relationships, and more. It's a fun read -- and the artwork by Chris Sabatino is great!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Books by the Banks

Hey, everybody in the Cincinnati area! Books by the Banks, a great FREE book festival is coming up soon. My book, Stepping Stones - The Comic Collection, will be available. Stop by my table and say hi!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's that time again!

It's time for school to start! Here's a book from Teacher Ideas Press that's a handy resource for teachers throughout the school year. (Yes, it's one of mine!) All Year Long! Funny Readers Theatre for Life's Special Times offers easy-to-use plays themed to different times of the year -- first day of school, Labor Day, Columbus Day, St. Valentine's Day, a snow day, etc., etc. Check out this video about the book. (It's the first one I've ever made using Movie Maker, a program that, unbeknowst to me until just recently, was lurking on my computer!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Find me on youtube!

Yes, I'm finally there! I've posted the videos about my books on youtube. Just go to youtube and put "Diana R. Jenkins" in the search, and a list of the videos will come up. The only video that doesn't come up is the cute Pauline video about Family Ties -- Thirteen Short Stories, but you can watch it here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Great New Presidential Biography!

Love this book!

Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities is for young readers, but adults will enjoy it, too. (I did!) Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan brings Theodore Roosevelt and his times to life with a well-researched and well-written book, full of interesting details, great quotes, excellent photos and illustrations, and intriguing sidebars. It's a great resource for kids' research but also just a fun read! You can find it on amazon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Here are some pictures of my visit to the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit. I had a wonderful time meeting the Pauline sisters, visiting the various displays, and signing books! That's a big stack of The Stepping Stones Journals on the table, my latest book from

Click here to view these pictures larger

Monday, June 14, 2010

Latest News About Diana's Books!

I recently found out that Saints of Note - The Comic Collection won third place for children's books at the 2010 Catholic Press Association Awards and Now You're Cooking - Ten Short Stories with Recipes won Honorable Mention! The Catholic Journalist says: "Saints of Note connects modern children's 'real' problems with the lives of a saint. The presentation aids in the resolution of the problems and teaches about each saint. It gives a clear example that no problem is new and the same feelings have been felt by saints." Many thanks to everyone at Pauline Books and Media who worked so hard on these books!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Saints Alive!

Kids often view the saints as old-time stained-glass figures who have nothing to do with them. Here's a video about the books I wrote to make the saints meaningful to today's kids.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just Deal With It!

Here's a video about my first books of plays -- Just Deal With It! Funny Readers Theatre For Life's Not-So-Funny Moments. The book includes 19 funny plays about contemporary kids with real-life problems. My working title for the book was Not For Weak Stomachs, which conveyed the humor of the book but sounded just a little too...well...disgusting! Click here to view the video.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Book!

Family Ties - Thirteen Short Stories is out! This book is full of fun and funny stories about family -- including some of mine. Here's a youtube video about the book.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New video!

Check out this animoto video I made about All Year Long! Funny Readers Theatre for Life's Special Times! (This is fun! You can try it, too, here.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Using Readers Theatre with Small Groups

Do you hesitate to use plays with your students because you’re dealing with such a small group? Whether you’re a special education teacher, homeschooler, religious educator, or involved parent, readers theatre can work for you and your kids! Here are some suggestions to help you modify theatre activities for your situation:

1. Cut! Mark out minor characters’ lines and eliminate nonessential scenes.

2. Take turns. Just round robin read instead of assigning parts. Everybody gets to read about the same amount and try out different roles.

3. There are no small parts…. Assign the big roles to the kids, then do all the small roles yourself. Or let one kid do all the small roles. (This is great for practicing different voices.)

4. Make do with two. If you only have two students – or just yourself and one student – then divide and conquer. Have one person do all the male roles while another does all the female roles. Or assign one large role and a few small roles to each actor. Or split up the adults’ and children’s roles. (It’s fun and funny for you to play the kids!)

5. Take a chance. Have everyone randomly draw characters’ names until all parts are assigned.

6. Put the narrator on a “soundtrack.” Record someone – yourself, a student, or a special “guest star” – reading the narrator’s part ahead of time. Then play the tape between the “live” reading of other parts.

For other theatre suggestions, go to my website and click on the theatre tab.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Readers Theater -- Performing for an Audience

You may decide to use readers theater only as a supplemental educational activity. However, you could be tempted—or persuaded!—to actually stage a performance for a real, live audience.

How do you make the transition?

First of all, rehearse enough that actors can read with good expression and look up from their scripts occasionally. (But don’t over-rehearse! This is easier theater, remember?) Be sure to go through the whole play at least once without stopping. Set up your first “real” performance with an audience that’s not too threatening; a group of younger kids works well. Later, you can try performing for scarier audiences like peers or adults.

After some successful readers theater performances, your kids may naturally move towards something more like “regular” theater. They might make more facial expressions, gesture, or ask to act things out. At this point, you could abandon the traditional readers theater set-up and allow students to enter and exit and to move around the stage, holding their scripts.

Eventually, you may discover that your kids are memorizing some lines on their own. They might even ask to drop the scripts and do a “real” play. Or maybe you’ll decide to encourage that yourself and move completely into “regular” theater. That’s a great experience for your kids, but remember you don’t have to put together a big production. Feel free to stick to the simple, traditional, readers theater format.

The closer you get to a “regular” theater performance, the more likely it is that your kids will ask for sets, props, and costumes. If you decide to use these items, don’t rehearse with them right away as they distract kids from developing their characters and improving their performances.

Is It Really Worth It?

Every child can benefit from theater experiences. Of course, plays about a particular subject matter motivate kids to learn important information, but theater develops other academic skills, too. Performing a play helps kids develop language arts skills like listening, reading, and speaking. You can also use theater to improve writing skills by asking students to rewrite their lines, add new lines, or write the endings to interrupted lines. (The last one is really a must! Nothing is more awkward than an actor pausing before he’s actually interrupted. If he writes out the rest of his line, he can keep going until the next person breaks in or until the end of the line if necessary.) Kids can also write alternate endings to plays or make up their own scripts.

Theater yields nonacademic benefits, too. Putting on a performance takes skills like working hard, setting goals, meeting challenges, staying patient, and cooperating with others. (And that’s not just for the teacher!) Kids experience a real sense of accomplishment from their individual successes as well as the group’s achievements. And the self-esteem they develop in theater carries over into the rest of their lives!

For more information on using theater, go to my
website and click on the "Theatre for Teachers" tab.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Is Readers' Theater, Anyway?

Readers’ theater is easier theater! Actors don’t memorize their lines—they simply read from their scripts. Because memorization isn’t an issue, more students are able to handle large roles. Also, extensive rehearsal isn’t necessary. And, unlike “regular” theater, a readers’ theater production isn’t thrown into a tailspin by memory lapses or absences.

Other aspects of readers’ theater are easy, too. Sets, costumes, props, and even movement are not needed as the plays are written to work without them. The extras can be included if desired, but readers’ theater works even if the actors just sit there and read!

How Do I Get Started?
Before you use a readers’ theater play, read it yourself and make sure the content, theme, and vocabulary are appropriate for your students. Decide whether you need to preview any concepts or vocabulary. If you are thinking about staging the play for an audience, consider which students might fit which roles, but don’t set your cast just yet.

Once you decide on a play, make as many copies of the script as there are parts plus one for yourself. Highlight one character’s lines in each copy (except yours) to make it easier for kids to read. Covering or binding scripts will help them last through multiple readings.

After giving students time to read through their scripts silently, have them read the play aloud, changing roles with each scene if you wish. This kind of read-through makes a good, one-time, supplemental activity, but you can do much more with readers’ theater!

For example, you could have students read a particular script multiple times on different days. The repetition gives you several opportunities to teach comprehension skills like character traits, motivation, story structure, theme, and cause-and-effect. And rereading allows kids to relax about the reading itself and develop a deeper understanding of the characters and theme of the play.

Multiple readings also improve fluency and expression. You can help with these skills by asking questions about the characters’ feelings and motivation. If a student has difficulty with expression, “echo reading” can help. You model his lines with good expression and have him copy you. It doesn’t usually take much of this practice to get a young actor on the right track. Allowing students to record themselves as they read their lines and listen afterwards also develops better expression.

After several readings, you might want to move students from their seats to a traditional readers’ theater set-up. The actors in readers’ theater usually sit on stools or chairs throughout the play, holding and reading their scripts. Sometimes the actors sit with their backs to the audience, “entering” by facing front and reading their lines and “exiting” by turning around again. The narrator might stand to one side or read from a lectern. This kind of staging can make readers’ theater more fun for your students and motivate them to further improve their performances.

Next Blog: Making the transition to performing for an audience.

For more about theater, go to my website and click on the Theatre for Teachers tab.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's here!

I just got my copies of The Stepping Stones Journals, and they look great! Chris Sabatino did a fantastic job on the cover! This book is a novel in journal form that's about the kids from the Stepping Stones comics. I'll post more on this later, but for now you can go to the Pauline website for information.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Follow The Dot!

Vashti grabbed a marker and gave the paper a good, strong jab. “There!”Her teacher picked up the paper and studied it carefully. “Hmmmmm.” She pushed the paper toward Vashti and quietly said, “Now sign it.”
In this scene from Peter H. Reynolds’ delightful picture book, The Dot, Vashti begins a journey. She’s convinced she can’t draw, but her art teacher’s support throughout the story teaches Vashti that she is an artist. Then Vashti goes on to support another young artist. It’s a delightful book – for adults as well as children – and it made me think about how much writers need each other’s encouragement. It’s so easy to fall into negativity – and so great to get support from crit groups, writers’ organizations, workshops, etc. Thanks to all the writing friends who’ve encouraged me!
You can find this book on Amazon as well as the equally charming Ish, also written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Video from Animoto

Have you heard of animoto? It's a great website that allows you to make FREE 30-second videos from your own images. You just download images in jpg or gif, write any text you want, choose from the free music, and wait a few minutes. They put it all together into a cool video! Here's a new one I just created: Diana R. Jenkins, Children's Author. (Please pass it on!) Notice how animoto coordinated the images with the music!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Me? A Writer?

That's how I feel when someone introduces me as the author who's going to speak. I'm still amazed that my work has been published. And, actually, it's hard to believe anybody wants to hear me talk about it! Last Friday I had the experience of talking to the kids at John Paul II, reading them some of my stories, and answering their questions. They were a nice bunch of kids and a good audience so I really enjoyed visiting with them. Then on Saturday I spoke at a Greater Harvest Workshop. It was an inspiring day and I got more out of it than I gave, that's for sure. And I enjoyed meeting lots of friendly and fun people! Another workshop is in the works for May. (Check the website later for information.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Contest for Kids' Writers!

Did you know the Guide to Literary Agents Blog is holding regular contests for writers of different genres? Right now the "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest is for middle grade and young adult novels. So if you've written a book-length kids' novel, this is the contest for you. The judge is Jennifer Laughran, an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency! The prizes are: First place: 1) A critique of 25 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A query critique from your agent judge. 3) Two free books from Writer's Digest Books. Runner-ups - second and third place: 1) A critique of 10 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) One free book from Writer's Digest Books. For details go to the blog, but hurry! The contest ends soon!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Day For Writers

If you live in the Cincinnati-Dayton area, you're in luck! Greater Harvest Workshops is offering a wonderful day for writers on Saturday, February 27, from 8:30-1:30 -- and I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the presenters. Look what's planned for this jam-packed Saturday, designed to move you closer to your goal of becoming a working writer and published author:

8:30-9:00 - Registration
9:00-9:20 – Opening Session
9:30-10:30- Workshop #1
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-11:45 - Workshop #2
11:45-12:00 – Snack Time
12:00-1:00 - Workshop #3
1:00-1:20 – Closing Session

Choose one workshop from each session.

9:30-10:30: Workshop 1

Selling Short Pieces in the Christian Market – Donna J. Shepherd

Have you dreamed of writing for books like Chicken Soup for the Soul or seeing one of your devotionals published? Donna's workshop will focus on finding markets and how to submit your writing to anthologies, magazines, and ezines.

You Can Write a Novel – Teresa Slack

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this workshop, I’ll show you how to access the skills and material you already possess to turn your story idea into a finished novel.

10:45 –11:45: Workshop 2

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing – Linore Rose Burkard

Many writers today are taking this route to publication. Is it something you should consider? Speaking as someone who has self-published and traditionally published, Linore can speak with authority on the topic, and will guide you through the steps to deciding if self-publishing is for you.

How to Find Your Niche As an Illustrator - Liz Ball

Liz Ball is the author/illustrator of the popular Hidden Treasures hidden picture puzzle books, 18 picture books, and is published in over 100 newspapers, magazines and publications throughout the U.S. and internationally. In her workshop, Liz will explain the steps to becoming a professional illustrator. She will also look over your artwork and give you personalized advice.

12:00 -1:00: Workshop 3

The Seven Planks of Your Platform – Donna J. Shepherd

As a speaker or writer, it is in your best interest to build your marketing platform as early as possible. Are you wondering, what is a platform? Why do I even need one? And the biggest question of all: How do I start building mine? In this workshop, Donna will share seven tips for establishing yourself as a professional speaker and/or writer and connecting with your audience.

So You Want to Write for Kids? – Diana R. Jenkins

Diana Jenkins is the author of hundreds of magazine stories, comic strips, and plays for kids. In her workshop, she will share her journey and offers tips for getting published.

The whole day -- including snacks -- costs just $29! For more information, go to Greater Harvest Workshops. Hope to see you there!