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Pa. woman writes books about parenting

March 03, 2001

Pa. woman writes books about parenting



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Ricki A. Winegardner has written two books on a subject she knows a lot about - children.

"I know because I'm a mom," said the 33-year-old mother of three and author of two how-to books about being a parent of an elementary school child.

Her first book, "A Parent's Guide to 3rd Grade," came out last month. A sequel on guiding parents through their children's fourth-grade experience comes out next month.

While Winegardner is new at writing books, she's an old hand at writing about parenting. Since 1997 she has written weekly articles about and for women and parents of school-age children on dot-com networks. She also produced the Parents of School Age Children Community on the Web.

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Her articles share problems and ideas among parents who communicate with each other in community chat rooms on the Internet, she said.

She has written for www.iVillage.com and www.parentsoup.com.

"We cover everything from homework to keeping their rooms clean," Winegardner said.

She is married to Darin Winegarder, a machinist at JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg. Her children are 12, 11 and 4.

Winegardner's formal education stopped with her high school graduation, but her lack of college has not stopped Learning Express, a New York book publishing company, from seeking her out to write the books.

The publishers contacted her by e-mail in June saying they were impressed with her Web site articles. They asked if she would write the book on third- graders.

"It came out of the blue," she said.

The publishers sent Winegardner the list of contents they wanted covered in the book. Her fodder came from her own dot-com articles, from talking to parents and teachers and from her own experiences as a parent.

"I'm an emotion-driven writer. I can't write about anything that I don't have passion for," she said.

It took about a month to write the first book, which runs about 150 pages, she said.

Winegardner works full-time for a Chambersburg, Pa., computer software company.

"I wrote weekends and evenings after the children went to bed," she said. "Sometimes I'd be writing up to 11 or 12 o'clock. I don't require a lot of sleep."

"It was a family decision to write the book," she said. "They made a lot of sacrifices. I got a lot of support from them and Darin got good at preparing frozen pizzas."

Among topics covered in her book are introductions to the academic and social goals facing third-graders and the importance of parental involvement. There is an overview of the subject matter covered by grade.

The book also deals with developing creative and easy ways to reinforce at home what the child learns in class, and provides a briefing on the child's developing social skills, hints on developing good rapport with teachers and suggestions for parents of gifted or learning-disabled children.

The book sells for $14.95 and can be ordered on the Web or bought in any major bookstore, Winegardner said. She said she doesn't know how it is selling.

Her second book, on parents of fourth-graders, is due in April.

"I don't know if I'll do any more," she said. "I never thought I would get one, never mind two.

"I haven't heard anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if they called. I brought two books in under deadline, but I have three children. I would have to weigh the time involved."

Winegardner said she has been writing ever since she can remember, mostly short stories that have never been published. Last year she wrote a poem about high school graduations which she put on "Meanderings," her poetry Web site.

"About 500 people visited the site searching for graduation poems," she said. "Some of them e-mailed me for permission to put my poem in their graduation programs. That was a really big thing for me."

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