Posted in Classroom Tips and Tricks, Read with your kids, Reluctant Readers, Teaching

5 Funny Plays for High Schoolers With a Sense of Humor

Hey, ya’ll! Ya girl published an article over at Theatre Trip!

Click HERE to read about some great plays that will get your students active (and even a little excited) in your theatre unit!

Getting our kiddos to engage with plays can be so hard – it’s a new format, new vocabulary, and for those of us who are on the “shy” side, reading aloud can be downright terrifying.

How do we help? We provide accessible content that’s relatable.

In other words, we make it FUN!

Posted in Faith

Seeking Calm WITHIN the Storm

I’m a planner; I like order and to-do lists and thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong so I can stop them from going wrong. I take pride (too much pride, I’ll admit) in being the level-headed girl who can look past emotions and dramatics and see solutions.

Solutions = Control

As a new teacher, I dreaded the day when I would walk into my classroom and feel completely at ease – when I would be confident that the day would be a good one.

I believed if that day came, it would be the last moments I’d remember before everything shattered. Before I lost control.

I convinced myself that every smile, every breakthrough, every “good day” would be followed by something equally awful. They were the calm before the storm in a time when I felt trapped by suffocating winds and gut-punching blows.

It took me a while, but eventually I realized I’d lost the things that made me me.

I’d lost my hope that things would get better. I surrendered to fear, and it wasted no time taking what it came for:

My joy.
My passion.
Myself.

I was a shell of the person I’d grown into by the grace of God and every human being who’d taught me what it meant to be kind and good, and I. WAS. MAD.

At myself, at the world, and at the horrible feeling that had been buried in my stomach for months.

I was mad at the way I couldn’t worship the God I’d trusted so long ago because each Sunday that came reminded me of the Monday that would follow.

I was mad at the way I hid myself from friends and from despite the loneliness I felt.

So, I made a choice: However much it scared me, I would fight back. I would abandon the chains that bound me – the anxiety, the guilt, and the fear commanding my life.

I was done walking on eggshells waiting for the heart-stopping booms of thunder that shook me to my core.

I was done letting my own anxious heart rob me of the fruit I saw born from my efforts.

I was done letting fear win.

Peace wasn’t going to come on its own. I had to embrace the storm I feared and SEEK the calm I desired.

Every day, I woke up, and I chose to seek something good. Because there was good. There is always good.

Some days, it was easy, and I’d find myself smiling like a crazy person staring up at stars. I’d think about all the stories humans have told about the figures dancing across the sky, and I’d thank God for granting us with the gift of imagination and storytelling.

Other days, seeking good felt bad. I’d feel defeated when I walked into school with confidence and left with the sound of bitter words ringing in my ears like clashing symbols.

And yet, life was still better than it had been, and God was still with me.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-3 NIV

Despite the storm that engulfed my life, there was still morning, and there was still evening, and each day was still good.

Just as He had when I was in college, God had kept His promise to guide me and to care for me according to His will. He would not leave me.

With each morning came new mercies, whether I saw them or not.

Weeks passed, then months, and eventually, I found myself at the end of a season. The storm had passed, and I was okay. It felt . . anticlimactic.

One day, I was there. The next, I was wasn’t. I could breathe again.

I could dream again.

I won’t pretend I’m immune to the darkness I knew last year, and I certainly won’t pretend to know what you’re going through. What I will say is this: Storms will come. It’s guaranteed.

There is so little we can control, and choosing to see good is one of those things. It’s hard and it can be painful, but ultimately? It’s the best chance we’ve got at making it through the seasons we wish hadn’t come at all.

We seek the calm within the storm, and we trust that God knows what He’s doing, because He does.

Posted in Community, Gratitude

Thanksgiving: It’s Just a Thursday.

If you haven’t been bursting with excitement and counting down the days on your Turkey-themed calendar, then you probably figured it out based on the number of Black Friday emails you got this week: Thanksgiving is here.

The Build-Up:

Just like every other holiday (commercial or otherwise), it’s no secret that these days are either highly anticipated or severely dreaded – there really isn’t much of an in-between.

We obsess over who’s traveling where and which in-laws will bring their dogs and what kind of cringy boyfriends will be brought home from college. We break out the secret family recipes we had to bribe our mother-in-laws to get before we buy enough meat, stuffing, and vegetables to feed a small army. We plan games and seating charts and holiday movie marathons for after the big meal. We stock up on zip-lock baggies for leftovers…or we sit back and watch football (again, rarely an in-between). 

We’re reminded of how grateful we should be for this, that, and the other, because it’s Thanksgiving, and you’re kind of a jerk if you don’t say you’re thankful for something.

By the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Most of us are probably replaying conversations in our heads wishing we would have had the guts to say something. Or worse, we’re trying to work out the least crappy way to apologize for that super crappy thing we did say two hours ago.

Even if the day went perfectly, and everyone left the house smiling, We’re. Still. A. Mess.

Rather than give you 5 Tips for a Perfect Turkey (I’m a vegan and am literally no help), or 9 Ways to Make a DIY Centerpiece (I’m also useless with crafts), I’m going to give you a Truth.

The Truth:

Good, bad, or ugly, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday.

When your grandma asks if there’s anyone “special” in your life even though she knows perfectly well you’re still single? It’s just a Thursday.

When Uncle Bruce has one too many Blue Moons and asks his in-laws what they think about the small-handed-orange running the country? It’s still just a Thursday.

When the food takes forever, the bickering is at an all-time high, and you somehow end up laughing until your stomach feels like it’s being stretched out like silly putty? You guessed it — it’s just a Thursday.

Our generosity and our gratitude are not limited to one holiday season.

We’re taught as children that everything we have is a gift, and we should always be grateful for what we have. What are we constantly reminding kids they need to say? Thank you.

Children know that Thanksgiving is a day when they see the cousins and aunts and uncles who are way more fun than their own siblings, but they don’t see it any differently than every other time their family comes together. 

We teach them to be thankful for everything from a carton of milk in the cafeteria, to the friend who opens the door, to their parents taking them out for ice cream. Before they are old enough to realize it, they’ve established a practice of daily gratitude.

We’ve lost this, as adults. So, we freak out when we come to a season where everything is supposed to be perfect and happy and heartfelt and meaningful and all of the things we wish we could make happen every other day but always fail to accomplish.

What would happen if we reminded ourselves that this holiday is just. a. day.

Here’s Some Good News:

We’re still us, our family is still our family, and our house is still our house. Rather than create a pressure-cooked holiday that demands perfection, we can make a conscious decision to let the cards fall where they may.

Does that mean we shouldn’t make a totally B.A. pumpkin pie or play a million rounds of “Catchphrase?” Heck no! Go for it! What it does mean is that we can choose to see this is a day that reminds us of the blessings we encounter every single day of the year. And if we mess up? Here’s another Truth:

The world will keep spinning, our people will still be our people, and tomorrow, we’ll have a million chances to be thankful.

On this day of “thanks,” remember this: You’ve had worse, you’ll definitely have better, and I’m pretty sure it’s against the laws of nature for the world to end before the Macy’s Day Parade has successfully shown off every one of those massive balloons — so, you’ve at least got that going for you.

Enjoy your day, all.

Posted in Community, Gratitude, Servant Hearts

Five ways to thank a teacher

We are down to less than two weeks before Thanksgiving is here, and, as it usually is in November, “thankfulness” seems to be on everyone’s hearts and minds. Yes, we should be intentional about thankfulness all year, but there’s something about this month that opens doors we usually allow social awkwardness and an aversion to actual feelings keep closed – it’s not weird or too touchy-feely to remind your parents about that awesome family vacation you took when you were six or to thank your grandma for teaching you about what it means to be generous. In November, we suck it up, and we say thank you, because deep down, we sort of wish we had the courage to do it in the other eleven months.

On the list of thankless jobs, teachers are consistently at the top. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where public education isn’t special, it’s expected, and so are teachers who care about our kids and do everything they can to help them be successful. As a result, teachers are often left with little-to-no recognition for the work they do.

Teachers teach because they love the kids, not because they want your praise, BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t thank them this month (and every other month) with a few things that will remind them they are more than teachers, they are people, and their work matters even when they can’t see past the progress reports, curriculum planning, or stacks of ungraded assignments on their desks.

1. Write a letter.

Not a note. Not an email. A full-blown-hand-written-heartfelt-signed-with-sincerly-letter. This will immediately tell a teacher that they mean enough to you to be worth the time it takes to sit down and write about it. You don’t have to write a novella — share one thing you admire about them, or a memory you have from their class, or a way that they’ve shown you kindness. I guarantee that your letter will not be thrown out in a day, or a week, or even a year. Your words will be kept in a drawer or a binder that the teacher saves for the hardest school days. Your words will remind them why they show up when they’re sick and tired and discouraged. Whether you see them every day or you haven’t seen them in fifteen years, your words will keep them going.

2. Coffee or Tea

Let’s be real, they drink it (mostly) because of you. Gift cards are an easy way to say “thank you” while also supporting the local businesses in town.

3. Make a care package

Let me be clear: This is for THEM, not for their classroom. This is not a box of supplies (they get those from the school) or a bunch books for their reading corner (a nice gift any other day, but not in this care package). This is a collection of small things to help your teacher practice self-care. What should you put in this, you ask? Here’s an example that comes in at just under $20.00. Or $5/person if you ask three friends to join you.

  • $2.99 Face mask (yes, even for the dudes)
  • $1.99 Candy (Not sure what they like? Chocolate. The answer is chocolate.)
  • $5.99 Fancy Pens (That are 100% NOT for students. All teachers love nice pens. It’s a thing.)
  • $9.00 Movie pass (preferably with a note attached that says, “please use on cheesy rom-com”

4. Ask about literally anything other than school.

If you catch a teacher on the right *bad* day, there’s a 99.9% chance they’d rather talk about their last dentist appointment than they would about what happened between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. They likely did everything they could during their lunch hour and prep time to be able to high-tail it out of the building the moment the clock struck 4. They now have 13 hours to grocery shop, fill their cars with gas, cook dinner, talk to their roommates/spouses, feed their pets, and attempt to dream about something other than their 3rd hour class. Ask them a question about grownup life. Ask them which Avenger would make the best boyfriend or why the heck Ryan Gosling is so attractive. Literally ask them anything that will take their minds off of the school day and will let them be 100% themselves. Which leads me to #5…

5. Think of them as a PERSON (this one is required).

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT place teachers in a separate category in your mind. Just because they chose to teach does not mean they are immune to the angry emails, endless to-do lists, or pressure to increase test scores. They don’t have a supernatural ability to make anxiety disappear or to make 3 hours of sleep feel like a full night’s sleep (seriously, they wish).

Like every other profession, new teachers enter the field thinking they know what is expected from them. Unlike most professions, when teachers realize how many unexpected responsibilities they will be given, there is an unspoken rule that they can’t complain and they can’t say “no,” because it’s “for the kids.” This makes them feel guilty for even considering saying no to another supervision, another prep, or another inservice.

You can’t change their work load, but you can make the decision to ask them how they’re doing. Not how their classes are doing, but how they are doing. Trust me, they will appreciate it more than words can say, because they have most likely forgotten that they’re allowed to be people too.

Pick two of them, or all of them, but please, please, please, thank your teachers.

Posted in Uncategorized

Kids Books are People Too!

Let me begin by saying, I LOVE “the classics.” In high school, I made it my personal mission to read them when I realized my teachers weren’t going to make me. I read books like Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, and Crime and Punishment, for fun. I majored in English, because I love reading the ideas of writers who lived centuries before I did and still dealt with the same crud as I did in the 21st century. The Classics have value beyond any words I can think of at the moment. They remind us of a time that was simpler — a time untouched by technology and photoshop and artificial flavoring (yes, you wonderful Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I’m talking to you).

BUT

Jane Austen is not for everyone. Leo Tolstoy is not for everyone. Fyodor Dostoevsky is definitely not for everyone.

If we —  parents, teachers, miscellaneous role models — tell ourselves that the only way our readers will become “good readers” is to read books written in 1863 by dead (and usually white) people (usually men), we will be doing them an incredible disservice. 

Here’s why.

Every reader goes looking for themselves in the things they read.  Have you ever met a reader who will flat out refuse a book because the main character is younger than them? You haven’t? Hi, I Was That Kid, nice to meet you! What readers like me were (and are) looking for was not a character that was just like us. We wanted to be able to relate to the character, yes, but if they were too much like us, it felt like our stories were set. Scripted. Unchangeable. IF, however, the characters were even just a year ahead of where we were, we could see ourselves one year in the future, and we could find hope.

What “kids books” fail to get credit for is that they teach readers to HOPE.

Harry Potter? What kid doesn’t end up hoping they could have the strength in them to defend the people they love and defeat the dark lord? Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Who reads those books and doesn’t wish they had the guts to stand up to the school bully or their big brother? the Farting Dog? No kid can sit through this story and not end up having a good laugh and a sense of pride in the things that make them different?

The Classics are “classic” for a reason: Over the decades, thousands of readers have walked through stories about pain and love and overcoming incredible loss or celebrating unexpected success. Those are all good things! If you have a kid who really stinking loves Jane Eyre, that’s amazing. Please give that child a cookie. And if you have a kid who would rather read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies? Awesome – also give that child a cookie.

If we’re going to tell our kids how valuable reading is, we have to allow them to find the stories that have value according to them, not just to us. Does that mean we let 8-year-olds read slasher horror stories because they say they “value” the blood and guts on the cover? Of course not! That’s insane.

What it means is that we don’t scrunch our noses and screw up our faces when our kids walk up to us with a graphic novel instead of a chapter book, or when they choose Juliet Takes a Breath over Romeo and Juliet. We help our kids by giving them a healthy bit of space to explore the stories available to them. We give them permission to discover what they believe has value.

Spoiler Alert: This isn’t just about books.

Did you notice before that I said, “Every reader goes looking for themselves in the things they read?” If you spend much time around teenagers, you know that they take in new content every time they open their phones: Snapchat stories about which half-dressed celebrity did what, Instagram posts of teens that look a lot more like Greek gods than actual people, and songs describing the “perfect” night like it happens every weekend. 

It’s not that teens don’t understand that the images in front of them are 100% staged (they do) or that they think the person in their feed with nine hundred “likes” has the perfect life (they don’t). What they do see, is the possibility that somehow, someday their life could be as amazing as the ones projected in front of them. They want to believe that this happy, exciting, and satisfying life is within their reach.

What can we do to show them that their hope is closer than they think?

To start, we can show them the same kindness and respect that we expect them to show us. One of the simplest ways to do this? Ask. Them. Questions. Part of chasing hope is chasing the idea that what we want and what we think will actually matter to someone. By asking the kids in our lives what is important to them and why we show them that their thoughts, their dreams, and their hope matters to us. 

And yeah, that means ignoring the fact that you might think Fortnite is the dumbest game in human history and asking your kid what it is that they like so much about it. Yeah, that means keeping your sarcastic comment about the disgusting amount of lipstick that YouTuber is wearing to yourself and asking what the videos are really about. 

I guarantee that if you take the time to ask these things, you will be amazed by the amount of thought your kids have put into these things they watch. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of hope in their eyes as they share those thoughts with you. 

Posted in Let's get reading!, Read with your kids, Reluctant Readers

Why do my kids HATE reading?!

If we haven’t all said it, we’ve definitely thought it: Why do my kids HATE reading? Parents, teachers, and concerned citizens everywhere are looking at the generation rising and seeing a mass of people who can’t seem to be bothered to read anything. Not the news. Not a book. Not even the room they’re standing in because their eyes are glued to the screen sitting in their palm.

We think, “I loved reading as a kid! Did something change? Am I doing something wrong? Is something wrong with my kids?” Then, we panic. “How are they going to function as adults if they can’t tell the difference between ‘fake news’ and ‘actual news?’ What will they do if their GPS stops working and they can’t read a map? Dear Lord, is that really what they think those models look like in real life?”

The good news is, no, it’s not just your child/student who really really really doesn’t want to pick up a book. You know it’s not, because you’ve heard other parents and teaches agonizing over the same thing.

More good news? Your kids don’t actually hate reading. Not really, anyway. the hate what the think reading is: A boring, sit-still, and brain-draining requirement they have no say in. That last part is crucial. If I had to choose one theme out of everything I heard my high school students say last year, it’d be this: I have no choice.

As adults, we might hear this and think, “Are you kidding? You have more choices than literally anyone has ever had. You have access to tools that will make you successful, and you’re wasting your time on your cell phone.” Is this accurate? For a handful of kids, sure. But not all of them. The reality is that we have a generation of people who feel like they have no control.

Climate change? Sorry kids, we can talk about it a ton, but you’re pretty boxed in with that one. No college fund? Sorry, you need x, y, z for that scholarship, so you should figure something else out. Aw, you feel anxious? So does everyone else – you’ll be fine. Your parents are struggling? Welp, that’s your job to handle cuz’ you’re 18 and a grownup now.

Before you get too upset, I’m not saying you have to agree with any of those italic words, BUT if these are the messages students are absorbing as truth in 2019, are we really surprised that they want to use their free time to cozy up in their digital hideouts?

Before Snapchat stories, video games, and shared Netflix accounts, reading was an escape into a world that was new and exciting and uncomplicated. This is where we’re letting our kiddos down. When life gets busy, we talk about the stuff that has to get done. When that’s reading? It’s an assignment. A mandate.

What would happen if we made the conscious decision to talk about reading like it was something wonderful? Because it is! For little ones, what if we read our favorite story at bedtime (or circle time) and shared why it made us happy? For older kiddos, what if we started by listening, rather than listing all of the reasons they should be reading more?

Does your kiddo love to draw? Ask them why! If they’re drawing to express a feeling or to escape from stress, they’re sharing a story and they don’t even know it. Do they obsess over anime and manga? Guess what? They are reading the heck out of those subtitles. Ask them why they prefer those stories! Is it because of the heroism or the value of loyalty? Ask them why they are always running into that video game – what’s so appealing about that world?

Y’all. Whether they know it or not, your kids love stories, and they love storytelling. What if we made a point of telling our kids that every story matters? Even theirs.

A real-life picture of me trying to write this post, but also what your kiddos could look like at their best storytelling moment.

If we are truly living in a time where kids feel like their voices don’t matter, what better way to help them than to show them the wealth of stories they have available to them. Bookstores. Libraries. Yes, even Instagram. All of them, hubs of stories ready for our kids to take them in.

So, let’s STEP UP!

Let’s put our money where our mouths are and TALK about what we love to read, write, and create. Let’s ask our kids what they think, and LISTEN to what they have to say.

Posted in Uncategorized

Introducing the Writer and Her Purpose


My name is Hannah, and I am absolutely in love with the art (and dare I say, magic) of storytelling, specifically as it’s done in books

That’s why I majored in English at Iowa State University and graduated with a license to teach Engligh Language Arts and English as a Second Language to kiddos grades 5-12. During my time in college and teaching in middle school and high school classrooms, my love for children’s literature grew and grew until all I wanted to do was curl up by a nice fire and become a professional reader. Sadly, those jobs are hard to come by and have a real intense interview process. So, I did the next best thing: I went to a local bookstore that had become a safe haven (cough, cough, Mystery to Me) in a new and unfamiliar city, and I asked for a job. Turns out, they liked me enough to hire me, and now, I get to share my love of reading and storytelling with the good people of Madison, WI.

My favorite part about this gig is, without a doubt, my time in the kids’ section. 

While I’m perfectly content roaming the shelves on my own, it’s the very best when I get to help a student find their next big read. There’s something so special about hearing which stories have shaped the way these students think, feel, and act in the world.

So, why did I start “ Wildflower Press ?” 

There are so many fantastic reads available to us in 2019, and this is a great gift! It’s wonderful that young readers can find a book about any topic that interests them, but for parents, this can pose a challenge. Even the most avid readers can’t read everything. It’s just not possible. It’s certainly not possible as a parent trying to juggle work, school functions, laundry, meal plans, and (Heaven forbid) their own interests. This is where I come in.

My goal is to take one thing of your plate, whether you’re a parent trying to stay aware of the content your child is reading or you’re someone who loves to read but just doesn’t have the time to scroll through the thousands of books on Goodreads before choosing your next read. Here’s a breakdown of the pages you’ll find

  • “About Me”
    • Contact Me
    • Email List – here, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter highlighting new books as well as insights from a variety of readers, authors, booksellers, and more!
  • Blog
    • Ta-da! You’re already here!
    • Read my general thoughts on stories, faith, and sometimes (gasp!) hot topics in our cultural, political, and personal lives.
    • All opinions in the blog entries are entirely my own, unless otherwise specified. 
  • “Spotlight Reads”
    • Find top reads in each genre as told by myself, kids, and parents.
    • These will also feature my favorite audiobooks, courtesy of Libro.fm! Libro.fm is an amazing platform to find all of the latest and greatest audiobooks around. They also help you support your local bookstore! With every book you purchase, your local bookstore will receive a percentage of the sale! BONUS: If you #switch from Audible to Libro.fm, you’ll receive a 3-for-1 deal when you sign up – That’s 3 audiobooks for $14.95!
  • “Reviews“ 
    • Find book reviews for picture books and middle grade and young adult fiction (the latter two including “trigger warnings” about sensitive content as well as suggestions for conversations to have with your kiddos as they read that particular story).
    • Again, all opinions used to describe the books’ themes and content are mine and mine alone, unless otherwise specified.

A Word on Faith, Culture, and Worldview

The blog is a place for me to share what I’ve learned through stories, and faith is a big part of my story. I am a Christian. I believe everything I have in this life is a direct result of the sacrifice Jesus paid for my brokenness. I believe I’m called to love ALL people, including those who hold entirely opposite beliefs of my own. 

The lens through which I see the world is shaped by my beliefs about God, humanity, and how they are in relationship with the world we live in. I believe humans have the freedom to accept or reject ideas as they desire. In other words, I’m not here to make you think just like me.  

At times, I will write about how my faith affects my life. Other times, I won’t. Whether we have the same beliefs or not, I am SO happy you are here! There are plenty of ways for us to divide ourselves in 2019, and I think we can all agree that it would be nice if the love of reading and storytelling could UNITE readers of all backgrounds.

Let’s try it, shall we?