PHILIPSBURG — A local writer recently fulfilled her dream of publishing a children’s book.
Tina Bickel, who is also a teacher with about 18 years of experience, released her first book “Welcome Home, Diesel!: The Adventure Begins” in April.
“I’ve always been very involved with children’s books, it’s just something I’m familiar with,” Bickel said. “I’ve said from day one of teaching that my favorite part of any day in an elementary classroom is reading aloud, because I love watching the students get so mesmerized by the scenery and the characters.”
Getting students interested in literature is Bickel’s priority.
“It’s so exciting to see them have a passion for reading and writing,” she says.
Chester, a bulldog, started popping up on Bickel’s social media account a few years ago. Diesel came on the scene a year later. People took notice of the two contrasting personalities, and Bickel decided to create the children’s book around the two bulldogs.
The book centers on Chester’s perspective on welcoming a new family member. It’s aimed at students in grades two through three as a beginner children’s book series, Bickel said. The format of the book follows that of Ready, Freddy! series of books by Abby Klein.
A job change allowed Bickel to pursue the idea. For the previous 15 years, she worked as an elementary school teacher in the Bald Eagle Area School District. Last year, she accepted a position at the West Branch Area School District.
The ride has been reduced from about 30 minutes to about six, which leaves more time for writing. She also switched roles for Middle School Learning Support Math and Gifted Support. The requirements changed when she left second-grade teaching.
Bickel has found a way to connect her two worlds as a teacher and author. She showed the website designed for her writing career and let the students think about their own careers.
“They made their own websites mocking what mine was,” she said. “It was pretty cool to see that and open up possibilities for future career goals for them.”
The self-publishing process was much more complex than Bickel had originally anticipated. It took hours of formatting and editing, as well as researching the self-editing process. His publishing name, Teacher Teen Publishing, came about through his son-in-law.
Pressing the button to submit and publish was difficult. “I was terrified to do it because I thought there was going to be a mistake,” Bickel said. She walked away for the night and was ready to post the next morning, “and it turned out great.”
She enjoys watching her book reach into children’s hands and sharing her dogs’ antics. With the arrival of summer, she hopes to get in touch with local libraries and organize reading sessions. Bickel also plans to continue with the Chester and Diesel series.
“They created an endless amount of stories. It’s definitely not in low demand,” Bickel said. “I just try to make it exciting and fun. I don’t want it to become a job. I’m doing it at my own pace, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds.