Margaret O’Connell doesn’t have grandchildren, but still works in the book with children living nearby.

Courtesy photo

With more than 25 years of teaching elementary students, Marana resident Margaret O’Connell has taken her love for children away from the classroom and transformed it into book form.

Her recently published book, “Nana Writes Books,” is a step-by-step guide for grandmas and their grandchildren on how to write a fictional story together.  The idea sprung from knowing grandparents who often didn’t know what to do with their grandchildren when they visited.

“I told them to make up stories with their grandkids because that is fun,” said O’Connell, who used to do the same with her elementary students. “I then thought that I should organize how to write a story by making it into a book.”

The book gives written descriptions on how to write a story together, how to brainstorm ideas, and in the end, how to put it all together.  Many of the pages include pictures and hands-on activities, which are intended to keep the grandchild interested and engaged.  

O’Connell said that by putting it in book form, it gives grandmas a structured activity that is easy to follow with their grandchild and once they are finished it serves as a valued keepsake.

“When you buy the book you are buying an experience as well as creating a legacy item for both of them,” said O’Connell. “One of my friends who is going back east to visit her family did it with her granddaughter and they had fun.  She doesn’t see her often so it’s something they can each keep.”

Although it may be thought that writing a story with your grandma would interest girls more than boys, O’Connell said that boys, do in fact, enjoy the book as well.

“The boys may be hesitant at first, but then they like it. They were usually alien stories, war stories or action hero stories,” said O’Connell, referring to the time when she taught.  “After a while the boys would start encouraging each other because they worked in small groups.  They ended up being really proud of their books in the end.”

O’Connell said she is currently looking at creating a book just for grandpas.

“It’d be the same book just for grandpas though,” said O’Connell. “You want it so grandpas aren’t doing a book that says “Nana” on the front.”

On Dec. 8, O’Connell will be selling her book at a craft fair at Legacy Charter School.  Other copies will soon be available in bookstores and online.

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