Teaching Children Character Building Concepts: An Interview with Author Gretchen Burman

Who is Gretchen Burman?

My name is Gretchen Burman, mother of two amazing girls and wife to a fabulous and supportive husband.  When I was pregnant ten years ago, I was freaking out thinking how I would raise capably, caring and happy children.  What did I need to proactively and reactively teach them so they could be their best self?

I created a list of guiding principles called, The 12 Cs, to be my parenting checklist and provide my family with a common language to help us navigate life’s ups and downs.  Through the years, I expanded The 12 Cs to include positive self-talk and mindset skills.  Science supports the benefits of this powerful life skill and I use the characters Green Glory and Red Rant from my book, The Adventures of Ooga and Zeeta, to help children understand the power of their inner voice so they can be mentally strong and self-compassionate.  

After years of witnessing the positive effects and extensive research, I am now sharing my passion and learnings with other adults and children through my book, assemblies and workshops. 

What inspired you to write The Adventures of Ooga and Zeeta?

My now 10-year-old daughter, Payton, inspired me to write the book about 5 years ago.  Her imaginary friends are Ooga and Zeeta and I thought it would be so special to bring them to life through stories for each of The 12 Cs.  She is my muse.  For each story, Ooga or Zeeta start by thinking with their Red Rant inner voice.  Then they decide to change their self-talk/mindset to think with their Green Glory inner voice.  It shows children how they, too can navigate through real life situations, think for themselves and be prepared to handle whatever life throws at them.  

The book is a teaching tool designed to be read by children and adults together, offering a communication tool to open up dialogue and foster conversations.

What book made you realize you wanted to be a writer?

It wasn’t a specific book that made me realize I wanted to be a writer.  It was more that I wanted to share the consistent vocabulary of The 12 Cs, Green Glory and Red Rant with other children and families who were looking for a kid-friendly way to teach these character concepts and positive self-talk/mindset skills.

Do you have any quirky writing rituals or odd sources of writing inspiration?

The source for my stories are from my daughters.  I write down situations where we use The 12 Cs, Green Glory and Red Rant to help us navigate through obstacles.  I keep a notebook handy for these opportunities and then I type them in the computer so they are secure for when I write my blogs and next book.

What is the most famous book you’ve never read?

Harry Potter

How is the writer’s life you’re living different than the one you imagined?

I never imagined I would be a writer.  Writing was never a strength of mine so it didn’t occurred to me to write a book until a teacher friend of mine loved The 12 Cs and thought it would be great to share the concepts with other adults.  

After publishing the book, I wanted to get the book to as many kids and adults as possible.  I now go around to schools and teach thousands of kids about The 12 Cs, Green Glory and Red Rant through assemblies and workshops.  It has been incredibly rewarding to do something that I am so passionate about.  I truly believe in what I’m teaching and think children will benefit today and in their future.  It’s also super cool when you meet someone who has read your book and shares success stories of how the book has positively impacted them and their family.  When readers give you examples of how their kids changed from Red Rant to Green Glory.  So empowering and meaningful that my characters are helping others.

If you could build a super-author consisting of three, living or deceased, authors who would you pick and why?

Carol Dweck – her research has opened the door for new thinking and giving people power over their own lives.

Dan Brown – I love his stories and can never put his books down.  

James S. Hirsch – Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter – I love the strength of the characters and how they brought out so many emotions for me.  I love how a few amazing people helped and positively changed a man’s life with their actions.

Of your invented characters, who would you like to meet for lunch? Why?

Definitely Green Glory!  I would love to hear how it pushes away Red Rant when it’s bullying it.  What works and what doesn’t work to keep Red Rant quiet.

What are you currently working on that’s got you excited?

I am presenting at elementary school assemblies introducing The 12 Cs, Green Glory and Red Rant to students and faculty.  The assembly uses role plays to act out the characters in my book, Green Glory and Red Rant via The 12 Cs.  The goal is for students to leave empowered with new communication tools to help them successfully navigate life’s ups and downs.

Where can we find your books?

The Adventures of Ooga and Zeeta is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and many other on-line distributors.

Connect with Gretchen on the following social media links:

I would like to thank Gretchen for sharing her thoughts and time with Write on Fight on.


Thanks for reading and since you’re here…

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Be well,

Jay

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