In her more than 30 years as a teacher, Bonnie Kloster discovered that young students learned best when she linked a new concept to something they could relate to.
“When I was teaching, I found that children learn better when I put it in the form of a story,” said Kloster, a 34-year veteran of the classroom who taught kids in kindergarten, first and second grades who spoke little or no English at schools in California.
Now retired in Wilder, the 69-year-old Kloster used the same ideas to teach colors, telling time and days of the week in her books “Rufus and Friends.” The softcover Books feature Rufus, a tan Corgi, who helps young children learn concepts they’ll discover in school, as well as values such as friendship and maintaining a positive outlook.
The books are illustrated by award-winning graphic designer Teresa Sales, who Kloster met by chance when she contacted Caxton Printers — Sales’ employer — to discuss printing her books.
Kloster’s “Rufus” books are written for kids age 2-7, who she imagines initially having the books read to them by their parents, then reading them together, until finally the children graduate to reading the stories on their own.
Kloster seems a natural teacher.
“I never went to kindergarten, so I was an older first-grader,” she recalled. Her teacher often paired her with younger classmates, or those who needed some extra help. Kloster also assisted her brother, who was five years her junior, taught Sunday school and babysat.
In college, Kloster majored in English, a degree that she used as a writing liaison teacher in one of the elementary schools where she worked for 14 years.
“I love to work with children, and my passion is literacy,” she said.
Kloster retired in 2004 and moved to Wilder to be closer to her grandchildren, who range in age from 15 to a granddaughter born in early October.
She joined the Idaho Authors’ Community, a new group of veteran and rookie writers who Kloster said help each other promote their books, which she acknowledged is her least favorite part of being an author.
“We want to connect readers and authors, so we want to teach authors to do marketing,” she explained. Publishing, she added, “has changed so much.”
Her current project is a book for older children — ages 8-11 — that she hopes to self-publish by the end of the year. If sales go well, she said she’ll explore other publishing options.
“I’m challenging myself a little bit,” Kloster said, noting that writing for that age group is “much more involved. I need a character sketch, you have your plot. ... You have to use the entire writing process.”
Kloster’s third “Rufus” book tackles sequencing and shapes. It’s written and awaiting Sales’ illustrations.
Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune
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