Best to be humble and not to brag

Don’t worry about a clothing label or a tag

It’s the way you act, not the threads you wear

What’s important is that you care.

This poem is from Sherry Hoffman’s award-winning book, “A to Z Character Education for the Classroom.” Hoffman, a Lehighton school district teacher for the past 15 years, has written seven children’s books and has four others in progress.

Bucket beginnings

“My daughter, Megan, came home from kindergarten class one day and said her principal, (Gretchen Laviolette) read a book to the class by Carol McCloud called “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” Hoffman said.

The book encouraged children to “fill their buckets” with acts of kindness and also prompted them to stop others from reaching into their buckets with bad behaviors. Inspired by the concept, Hoffman contacted the author, who encouraged her to write a book of “bucket” poems. With 144 pages of poetry completed, Hoffman had her first book published by Ferne Press.

Steppingstones

Growing up in Franklin Township where she still resides with her husband, Jared, and their children, Megan, Jocelyn and Sawyer, Hoffman was introduced to storytelling when she was just 3 years old by her mother.

“She made me a little book out of construction paper. She wrote stories about what I liked to do and she used pictures of me as illustrations. I learned to love to read and write, and now it’s become my passion along with teaching.”

At 8 years old, Hoffman and a few of her school friends created a newspaper named Whippoorwill after a neighborhood park in Franklin.

“We mostly had my grandmother’s recipes called ‘Grandma’ Treats — Warming your Hearts and Your Stomachs.’ When people would ask my grandmother her recipe for her famous sticky buns, she would leave out one ingredient to keep her recipe a secret. We included the secret ingredient for her sticky buns in our newspaper, which we delivered with a Radio Flyer red wagon and sold them for a quarter each. When the Times News found out, they gave us a tour of their building.”

‘In Every Smile’

Well, your heart tells about what’s inside

Not your hairstyle or the bag at your side

Material things sure look nice

And probably cost a hefty price

But using your heart and wearing a smile

Will outlast any trend for a long while!

When Hoffman was a senior in high school, she wrote a story about a close friend of hers who died in a car accident. She named it “In Every Smile.”

“One of my teachers helped me develop the story,” Hoffman said. “I presented it to my friend’s family. They really appreciated it.”

Doing her homework

Hoffman, like many writers, gets her ideas for her books from anywhere and everywhere. She came up with a character for a story while shopping in a grocery store. She often writes while eating her morning cereal. She wrote “Forever Thankful, Good Night,” a story about children who say a bedtime prayer to thank God for their blessings, while she was shut in for three days during a snowstorm.

“There’s an expression for those of us who write,” she said. “We are never done doing our homework. For me, my characters, my poems and my stories are being created all the time.”

As a reading specialist, Hoffman likes to teach science with a creative approach. With one of her books, “Can You Dig It? All About the Temperate Soil Profile,” she teaches her young students about dirt.

Her husband, Jared, is the owner of All Points Towing in Jim Thorpe, and when their daughter, Jocelyn, heard that her dad picked up cars, this inspired the book “Driver Dad: Towman to the Rescue.”

“Jocelyn thought her father actually picked up cars with his hands, so she thought of him as a superhero saving people who have trouble on the road. She wondered why her father didn’t wear a cape, so after I told her that everyday heroes don’t wear them, well, then I wrote the book, and of course, the tow truck man is a hero who does wear a cape.”

Children and choices

Hoffman’s other books include “Be the Best Version of You: A Teacher’s Poem to Her Students,” Elf Olaf, Santa’s Magical Gift,” and newly released, “Grateful for You, Good Night!

Her books have earned her Mom’s Choice, Eric Huffer, Purple Dragonfly and Story Monster awards.

When asked to define the lessons her young readers will learn if they read her books, Hoffman offered two answers.

“I hope to inspire my readers to make good choices with their decisions and to expect the unexpected just like what happens in my stories.”

She spoke her second suggestion to the question in rhyme.

“Make the world a better place in your own little space.”