As a child, Karen Shaffer always liked to write. Although she considered studying it in college, she chose a more practical route, majoring in sociology and political science with designs on heading to law school.
However, those plans were put aside when the Washington, D.C. girl met and married Douglas County native, Keith, and she decided to stay home and raise their four children. As her children have gotten older — ranging in age from 23 to 14 — Shaffer returned to the workforce, tutoring reading first at Mark Twain and now at Fremont Elementary School.
“I love to work with kids, and I love reading,” she said. “It has been a fun fit.”
Through her job, she found an opportunity to reignite her creative writing spark.
Success For All, a national reading program adopted by the Carson City School District, hosted a contest for employees to submit children’s books and illustrations.
“I just thought about books I liked as a child,” Shaffer said. “In my case, those were always books that rhymed, so I submitted a rhyming book.”
As she considered her topic, she said, the word “serendipity” kept rolling around in her mind. It evolved into a girl named “Karen Dippity,” the title of the book.
“There once was a girl so happy and bright, whose name was Miss Karen Dippity,” the book begins. “She loved high heels and sparkly things, and she wore her blond hair all flippity. She had a mom and a dad and a dog named Fuzz, who all day long was quite yippity.”
Not only was her book accepted, she said, but the company asked her to submit another one. That submission became “Dreaming Big Dreams.”
“My brain thinks big thoughts, and I go along, wherever those thoughts try to take me.”
Both books were accepted in 2012 and published this year to be used in Success For All’s Curiosity Corner, the program used in pre-kindergarten classes. She has also sent in two additional manuscripts.
“Even though you walk into a bookstore and buy these books, they’re in classrooms across the country,” Shaffer said.
But recognition isn’t the motivation, she said.
“The part that’s most satisfying for me is knowing that my children and grandchildren can have books that I wrote,” she said. “It’s a bucket list thing. I’ve always enjoyed writing.”