NEW YORK – Peggy D. Sideratos is a seasoned elementary school teacher who graduated summa cum laude and earned an MS in Bilingual Elementary Education from Brooklyn College. Her teaching experience with students from Kindergarten-Grade 7 led her to write two books, The Light Giver and Other Stories to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children, and its companion book, The Light Giver Stories Workbook: Activities and Lessons for Social Emotional Learning.
The Light Giver is a collection of 22 children’s stories that promote healthy Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in children. Discussion questions and a helpful list of vocabulary words are included with each story. The companion workbook, includes easy-to-follow activities and lessons to reinforce the topics in the book and help parents raise kind, confident, compassionate children.
Sideratos spoke to The National Herald about her books, the writing process, and her family.
TNH: How long did the process take from idea to publication?
Peggy Sideratos: The idea for my books actually evolved over time, so the process took several years. Initially, I began writing children’s stories and lessons that generally focused on the tenets of good character, like honesty, kindness and helping others. Over time, I realized that there was a growing need to also address topics that seemed to be troubling children and teens today more than ever, like handling fear, disappointment, insecurity, bullying, criticism and learning not to compare themselves to others. As I better learned to deal with some of these issues in my adulthood, much of which had been a direct result of being bullied as a child, my goal became to pass the information along to kids. I wanted to teach them strategies and coping skills to prevent them from internalizing the pain and to better prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.
TNH: What is your writing regime like, do you prefer writing at certain times of the day?
PS: There is not a set time or place that I choose to write, rather it varies. My laptop is portable, so I have written in different parts of my home and while away in Greece. I do love to sit on the balcony of our apartment in Chios and write. You can’t beat the view.
However, I have never written any of my stories or lessons without first praying for God to inspire me and to help me produce something worthwhile.
TNH: What has been the most rewarding aspect of writing these books?
PS: Without a doubt the most rewarding aspect of writing these stories is the reaction I have received from numerous parents and children. When parents and kids tell me how much they love the stories, I feel like the time and energy I have invested into these books was worth it.
TNH: Where in Greece are your parents from and what has been the family’s reaction to your books?
PS: My late father was from Chios, but my mother is from Sparti. Both my parents and my brother, Steven, have always been the most incredible support system for me. I know that my Mom and brother are very proud, and I’d like to believe that my Dad probably is as well. Steven has also been a huge help to me. He previously worked as a reporter and copy editor for New York Newsday, so he was always the first to read and proofread my writing. I couldn’t have done any of this without their encouragement, love and support.
My illustrator, Stamatia Mavrikos, who also happens to be a teacher, is from Chios. We actually worked on the illustrations for the stories together this past summer. So, many of our friends and family in Chios are pretty excited about the books as well.
TNH: Are you working on another book or do you have any upcoming events or projects to share?
PS: The books were just released this past November, so my current focus is on visiting schools, libraries, after school programs and speaking to parents about the books and the importance of teaching children the Social Emotional Learning skills they need.
In the near future, I plan on having the books translated to Greek and eventually some other languages as well. I do plan on creating a sequel to The Light Giver books and addressing more issues and topics. I believe that the school visits and discussions with teachers and parents will provide me with additional ideas and inspiration for the next book.
Peggy Sideratos’ books are available online: https://www.thelightgiverstories.com