It was a real pleasure to help Susan Slack self-publish her comprehensive book for early childhood educators, Come Join the Circle: Singing and Dancing for Early Childhood Education. Her experience of many years as a children’s educator and dance leader is distilled in this book that encourages teachers to circle dance with young children for only 10 minutes a day. With the support of brain research, she presents a compelling argument for singing and dancing with children as a means of developing cognitive and social skills. Her sample lesson plan gives ample space for all the other disciplines to find their place in the inter-cultural approach that circle dancing naturally engenders.
What I found when working with her manuscript was that she was speaking from her true experience as an educator; there was no speculation in what she was bringing forward. And her love of sharing this experience was also very clear. Together we worked on finding the best way to bring the book out, and using her idea of using the four directions, the main sections were placed on a learning wheel to define four different approaches that one could take to the material.
It was like working on four books in one, and I participated in the project from the manuscript assessment to editing, book design and layout, as well as any refinements from the first draft of the print on demand version. One of the main challenges included creating a continuity within the 4 very different sections, and with the appendix section as well.
The extensive resource directory at the back of the book is extremely useful, and the appendix features musical notation for some basic circle dances to help any teacher get started. Truly a practical workshop in a book, this was a very ambitious first effort.
Crammed full of information, with illustrations, photos, music notation and resource list, Come Join the Circle is a fountain of inspiration brought down to earth to be shared and experienced by many.
We all know that kids need more physical activity than ever in this technological world, and we also know that the old games have to be taught if they are ever going to be kept alive. Group activities like circle dances offer a connection to our humanity, and it seems important for educators to find ways to incorporate these dances into their lesson plans. Susan goes one step further, and incorporates the lesson plans into the dances.
It was the first long-distance book I worked on and with email and phone we found there was no difficulty in connecting to work together, even despite the time difference between Susan in Florida and me in Vancouver. She now has a version of the book that she takes to workshops and sells direct from her website: http://www.readingrhythm.com. This version was printed through Lulu, and is available here through their secure site. It’s also available as an ebook.