Audrey Penn, Author of The Kissing Hand

 

What better way to start the Missouri Early Learning Conference than the way many of our youngest learners start every school year…with The Kissing Hand and its author, Audrey Penn. To quote one teacher, "That book has gotten many little ones through the first days of school." Ms. Penn got the conference off to a great start as she reminded us that, "You hold tomorrow in your hand." It is our responsibility as teachers to give children the best that we have in a safe, nurturing place.

 

When Ms. Penn’s first career as a ballerina ended when she became ill with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) she turned her creative talents to writing children's books. But her writing career actually began much earlier when she began keeping journals in the fourth grade. The journals became her first book, Happy Apple Told Me. Since then, Ms. Penn has written over 18 books which deal with important life issues for children. In her own words, "My passionate advocacy for children continually molds my writing style and subject matter. "

 

She wrote The Kissing Hand after she saw a mother raccoon kiss the palm of her cub, and then the cub put the kiss on his face. When her daughter was afraid to go to kindergarten, she did the same thing the mommy raccoon had done, put a kiss in her the hand so her daughter could put the kiss on her face any time she wanted.

 

Audrey Penn’s most important message to the conference participants was a reminder that that children need the comfort and familiarity of a safe place and a safe, familiar story. Even in the worst home, they need a place that is just theirs, and a good, familiar book can take them to that safe place. Chester and his friends have certainly taken many children to a safe place where they can feel loved.

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