Katie O’Brien Engen
Dream Job: Ice Cream Curator Hobby: Shameless Pun Addict
Plays well with words. Loves writing picture books that engage young minds with big ideas. Happy about publishing nonfiction articles and books-for-hire with Odyssey, National Geographic – Kids, Smithsonian Institution, Capstone Press, and others. Strives ever-forward towards (a plethora of) kidlit titles under her own name. Copywrites and edits for private industry and pro bono clients prone to word worrying or phrase fumbling. Formally reviews kidlit for book outlets; informally reviews personal reading for kicks. Seeks writerly connections via the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Story Storm, WriteOnCon, Writers Who Run, Girl & Duck, Authors Alliance, and some truly dynamic critique groups. Applies classroom experience and M.Ed. to creating cross-curricular lessons that inspire critical thinking and fun. Consults on (and formerly directed) interactive science education events at major public venues including the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the National Science Teachers Association Annual Meeting, and the White House Easter Egg Roll. Fueled by faith and laughter. Hometown fan who loves travel. Early bird comfortable with night owls. Rarely too busy for family time enjoying sports, live music, the beach…or ice cream.
Action shots! There is more to my life than writing and beach bumming, including…
running another marathon, selfie-ing at an outdoor summer concert, annoying a Storm Trooper, ‘appreciating’ art in Oslo, and hiking atop the 750′ Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
And now for the Serious Stuff:
I started at Bucknell University in hopes of becoming ‘the next Jane Goodall…but with elephants.’ Yet I couldn’t forego my life-long desire to teach students with special needs. Bucknell did not offer that major, so it was time to go. The University of Virginia invited me to finish my B.S. in Special Education and stay for my M.Ed. in the Educateur Program. I learned on many levels through varied teaching internships, riding horses, finishing a few triathlons, working in hippotherapy (PT with horses), and then working in my own classroom. While teaching in Los Angeles I completed my Professional Clear Certificate (K-12) at Loyola University.
Back on the East Coast I spent a few years re-discovering the world through the eyes of our children. The special needs of my private tutoring clients opened new perspectives, too. I also learned the tricks of the trade as an independent freelancer. I graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Getting a Ph.D. never appealed, but I worked with plant biology researchers on K-16 education & outreach and their steadfast addiction to data rubbed off on me. I continue learning, including STEAM and Economics Education certifications and professional development in teaching and technology.
I like writing non-fiction packed with cool facts couched in an upbeat, literary flow. I aim to both entertain and enlighten with my fiction and my educational resources. I create picture books that mash up themes and content for tots, teens & adults to enjoy together yet on different levels. Editing and revision are fun puzzles to me. Precision and elevating the original message are key goals for myself and any clients.
My articles have appeared in popular magazines and my books are part of curriculum materials produced by educational publishers. I write educational resources and newsletter articles for a large international science society. I sell some K-12 teaching materials at my store on Teachers-Pay-Teachers.com . I keep minutes & outtakes for The Bootleg Bookclub and occasionally incubate some nascent projects at my other blog, Enjoy the Read .
Here’s a sample of what I’ve published with trade and education publishers:
Boys Life – Go to the archives. Select the date & page to read each article.
Bug Off! (June ’00, p. 60) – A swarm of suggestions for dealing with pesty social situations.
Easy Reader (May ’03, p. 56)- Yes you can enjoy reading assigned books! Here’s how.
Einstein’s Slam Dunk Year (Nov. ’05, p.12) – Read up on 1905 & see if you can be like Einstein.
Speak Up! (Mar. ’05, pg.46) – Rules of the game to hit your next oral report out of the park.
Suburban Safari (Aug ’04, pg.32) – Get out! And play with science and nature.
National Geographic – Kids
The Truth Behind the New Movie Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed – Ruh-roh!
Do You Smell? – In ‘Tagged!’ issue: Neural identity & other tricks stuffed in your scentsational nose.
Have You Been Exposed to Electrosmog? In ‘Unwired’ issue: The buzz about exposure to electric fields.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve written as a paid scribe for educational entities:
Smithsonian Institution / National Science Resources Center
Science and Technology Concepts-teaching reading & science in tandem
Soils – non-fiction picture book
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Rigby
Literacy By Design -The Irish Experience (5th grade teaching pack)
No Irish Need Apply – historical fiction
48-page nonfiction books for middle school emergent readers
Heroes of the WWE
Suzanne Collins from Nickelodeon to The Hunger Games
Usher: Hip Hop and Beyond
American Society of Plant Biologists – ASPB News
Articles for the research community on education & outreach insights and event information.
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