From Being a PCHP Early Learning Specialist to Writing Books Used on PCHP Home Visits, Meet Children’s Author Carolyn Curtis-Mahoney
I Took the Moon for a Walk is a wonderful children’s book published by Barefoot Books and read by Parent-Child Home Program families and many other families nationwide. We were thrilled to discover that the author is not only a strong PCHP supporter, but also an Early Learning Specialist herself. We had a chance to speak with Carolyn, and are delighted to share her powerful story with you.
Hi Carolyn! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am the mom of a fifteen-year-old son named Lucan, and former step-mom (now friend) to four grown children. I live in Stoughton, a medium-sized town south of Boston, with my son, husband, and several furred and feathered family members.
Before my son was born, I worked for many years at a non-profit parenting organization, where we helped empower new parents by connecting them with resources and with each other. After Lucan was born, I took some time to savor being a mom. When I Took the Moon for a Walk was published, I began doing school, library, and book store presentations. Eventually I also found a part-time job as a paraprofessional in our local high school. Although I enjoyed working with the high school students, I was eager to work with younger children.
Why did you get involved in PCHP?
I learned about PCHP when the program came to Stoughton, and I was excited to be accepted as an Early Learning Specialist. PCHP is a perfect fit for me, because it draws on my experiences at the parenting organization and as a mom, and it allows me to share my love of literature and the joy of play with families. I am now in my fourth year with PCHP.
I love working with my PCHP families. They welcome me into their homes and hearts, which is an extraordinary honor. Each family is unique, and within each family each child is unique, so although they may think of me as a “teacher,” I have the great privilege of learning so much from them.
What are your most memorable PCHP moments?
I have so many memorable moments. They are moments that might seem small, but I know that other PCHP Early Learning Specialists will understand! The moment when a reserved mom feels comfortable enough to lead a follow-up visit, or when a results-oriented dad is able to relax and enjoy playing with his child. The moment when a child who “doesn’t like books!” is suddenly captivated by Maisy Mouse. The moment when a family is excited to tell you that they reenacted Caps for Sale over the weekend.
What would you tell the world about PCHP?
I wish all communities could offer PCHP. This program makes such a difference for families who are reminded of – or introduced to – the joys of reading and learning through play. PCHP helps family members learn more about each other and strengthen bonds. It helps a child walk more confidently into a classroom and into the future.
What inspired I Took the Moon for a Walk?
The original idea for I Took the Moon for a Walk came from a mistake. I love to share that notion with children – the idea that inspiration is everywhere and even our mistakes can lead to success! I misread an entry on a family activities calendar. I thought it said, “Take the Moon for a walk with your children,” and I loved the idea! Looking again, I saw that it really said, “Talk about the Moon with your children.” But the idea of taking the Moon for a walk seemed so magical that it stayed with me. I quickly started hearing the rhythm of the story in my head. To help me create the journey the narrator takes with the Moon, I recalled the nightly walks my nephew Christopher took with his mom and grandmother when he was a preschooler. I thought about the places and experiences he might have shared with the Moon.
I was very lucky that Barefoot Books chose Alison Jay to illustrate my text. Her luminous, crackle-finish paintings capture the whimsy and wonder of the original story while adding a layer of wit. For instance, she created details such as the Moon losing its shoe, flying saucers hovering over crop circles, and buildings with faces. These details help make the rich text accessible to young listeners while giving them much to explore in the illustrations.
Why is I Took the Moon for a Walk a good addition to PCHP?
I am so happy that I Took the Moon for a Walk is being shared with families through PCHP! I think it resonates with readers of all ages for many reasons. First of all, it’s a story of friendship. It can be read as both an adventure and a lullaby. The Moon seems to tug at our hearts the same way it tugs ocean tides, and young children especially seem drawn to it. Adult readers often recognize the tinge of nostalgia or yearning in the text. Younger readers feel empowered because the poetic elements – the rhythm, rhyme, and repeated refrain – quickly allow them to participate in the storytelling. They discover surprises in the illustrations that adults don’t always see. And, perhaps most importantly, the book honors a child’s imagination and belief in his/her own magic. While adults know that friendship with the Moon is fiction, children embrace it as perfectly possible.
It is a great gift to know that I Took the Moon for a Walk is read by families around the world. No matter what our differences are, we all look up in wonder at the same Moon.