Sages Reader Spotlight: Tanna Wright

Sages Reader Spotlights are an opportunity to shout out some of the many amazing book lovers in our community. We think you'll see some familiar faces in these reader profiles and we know that you'll get some great recommendations and inspiration to help you complete your own Sages Read 2021 Challenge. Don't miss the links to this Sages Reader's recommendations below. We've even matched them up to this year's challenge categories for you.

Tanna Wright is a Monticello native who moved away for a couple of decades and returned in 2013. She’s the owner and teacher at The Wright Start Preschool and one of our Monticello Little Free Library stewards. Tanna is one of those amazing teachers instilling an early love of reading into Monticello kids and we think our community is pretty lucky to have her! Turns out reading and teaching have always gone hand-in-hand for Tanna... Read on to learn more and get some great children's book recommendations (there are a few for the grown-ups, too).

SAGES READ: When did you discover a love of reading?

TANNA WRIGHT: My parents always read to me every day. Reading didn't come easy for my dad and my oldest brother, who both have dyslexia. I was always grateful for my ability to read and understand print. I grew up helping both my dad and my oldest brother decipher difficult printed text and helped them with spelling when they were challenged. Little did I know this experience would mold me into a teacher.

When I was little, I loved reading the classics of Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume. We had a fantastic librarian at the Allerton Library in Monticello when I was growing up, Mrs. Lintner. She had puppet shows in the basement of the old library, and she could make any story come to life! That made a huge impact on me. 

It wasn't until my sophomore year in high school when my English teacher, Mr. White, had us read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote that I realized my passion for nonfiction stories.

SR: A nonfiction fan! What are you currently reading? And do you have a favorite nonfiction book or one you would recommend to others?

TW: My personal reading currently is Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles by Rivvy Neshama. It's a short read, filled with inspirational essays from all walks of life and spiritual backgrounds. Anything that covers history or shares someone's personal story of inspiration is what I gravitate towards. Kara Tippetts wrote several books while battling cancer, and I followed her journey — The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard and Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together are two of my favorites. Reading is a way for me to connect my raw emotions with the author. I also love learning new things in order to better myself and expand my understanding of life. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is always a great one to read.

SR: Is there a book that really inspired you in your educational or professional journey?

TW: I have a unique curriculum that focuses on what I call experience-based or experiential learning/learn while doing. Integrating practical, real world work experience is how I believe children learn best. Inspirational books for my teaching method:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and The Poetry of Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers

Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom.

SR: How do you incorporate reading into your preschool curriculum/days?

TW: I take inspiration from children's books when planning my week’s teaching. The ideas jump off the pages and into my mind as I create fun, hands-on connections to the concepts I want the kids to learn. We also have a traditional reading story time every day, and I often read during lunch and breaks.

"So many of our language lessons and adventures at The Wright Start Preschool are inspired by books!"

 

SR: Let’s talk about books for preschoolers! What book or author do you recommend to parents of preschoolers most often?

TW: I recommend every parent buy as many books by Sandra Boynton as they can. I read these stories to all four of my kids. The memorization is fantastic for little ones. The stories are fun, colorful, interesting, funny, and short. 

SR: Do you have any favorite read-alouds? 

TW: I love reading aloud books that have characters I can easily bring to life. Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney are great examples as well as The Song of Spring by Henrik Jonas. Pete the Cat books are fun, bright, and positive. Children also love classics like Dr. Suess and books with active pictures, such as the ones in Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman!

SR: Tell us about your Little Free Library — where can we find it, what inspired you to create it, and what kinds of books are in it?

TW: It’s in my front yard at 703 Adams Street, right next to a tree turned into a fairy house. Come play as you get a book! Both the LFL and the fairy house were built by Ryan Kohler, dad of a former student. Shout out to RYAN! 

I love community, so when I learned about the LFL organization, I knew I wanted to offer one for preschoolers. Picture books tend to go fast in my LFL. I love that parents stop by on their walks with their children. It's such a joy to watch kids pick out books and take them home!

SR: You recently did a Sages Read theme in your little free library (see this post on Facebook). Do you have any specific recommendations for kids’ books that meet Sages Read challenges?

TW: There are still some great ones in my LFL! Here are a few others:

  • Read a book about love

Love Is You and Me by Monica Sheehan (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

  • Read a picture book or graphic novel 

Felix and the Worrier (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library) and Felix Feels Better by Rosemary Wells (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

  • Read a book that helps you connect with nature

A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

 

More 2021 Sages Read Challenge Inspiration from Tanna

  • Read a non-fiction history or historical fiction book not set in WWII

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

  • Read a book about love

Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles by Rivvy Neshama (Find it at Hartfield | Unavailable at Allerton Public Library)

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

  • Read a book that helps you connect with nature

Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

The Song of Spring by Henrik Jonas (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

  • Read a picture book or graphic novel

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)

Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Public Library)