Jo Kittinger’s interest in publishing began at an early age. She was editor of her high school yearbook and began submitting original craft designs for publication shortly after college. Her projects may be found in numerous books and magazines published through Oxmoor House and Heritage House. Jo began writing for children in 1991. In addition to her books, Jo has published articles in various books and magazines including Pockets, Boys Quest and The Flicker. She has written numerous feature articles which have appeared on the Just For Kids page of the Birmingham News and a number of items for Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement and CTB/McGraw-Hill.
Originally from Miami, Jo eventually settled down in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband Rick, whom she met on a blind date in high school. Jo started writing when her children, Becky and Robert, were young. Her children have grown as her writing career has also grown. Her oldest son, Michael, died at age 20 of complications from cerebral palsy. Michael’s life served as an inspiration to Jo and her family, and taught them the meaning and strength of unconditional love. Jo’s passions include pottery, photography, nature, and, of course, writing.
When I Grow Up
Jo Kittinger, Illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
This “Level A: Emergent” book in the “A Rookie Reader” series conveys the well-worn, but ever inspiring, story of a child’s dream careers. In addition to the usual palette of professions (doctor, firefighter, farmer, teacher) there are a few fun ones–singer, artist, truck driver and clown. The ultimate calling the child has, though, is to the presidency of the United States. This wish contains more than the usual dose of youthful whimsy, though, because the kid doing all the dreaming is an African-American girl, and the image of her adult self at the presidential podium a universally hopeful one. Appropriately, the little girl ends her ambitious daydreams by stating, “But today, I just want to play.” Simple, colorful watercolors add to the child-centered feel of the book. Young readers will find this little book easy to master, and easy to tote around. Includes a word list at the end, with 27 entries. 2004, Children’s Press/Scholastic, $4.95. Ages 4 to 6. Reviewer: Jane Harrington (Children’s Literature).
Jo Kittinger, Illustrated by Ilene Richard
With its short, rhythmic text and crayon-bright illustrations, Moving Day reassures emergent readers who might experience an upcoming move to a new town. Snappy rhyming couplets introduce the first-person narrator and her situation: “Pack my clothes./Pack my toys./Say good-bye to the girls and boys.” Readers follow an African American girl as she packs, travels with her family by car, eats in restaurant, stays overnight in a motel, and then moves into her new house. The ending shows the family in a cozy scene, reading while surrounded by moving cartons. Concrete images in text and artwork come together except in one confusing instance. The text, “Play a game. I’m the winner!” requires the illustration to explain that the narrator is in a motel. A word list is included as back matter. 2003, Children’s Press/Scholastic, $16.00. Ages 5 to 6. Reviewer: Candice Ransom (Children’s Literature).
Going to the Beach
Jo Kittinger, Illustrated by Shari Warren
A brown-skinned family of five goes to the beach and has a great time. Short phrases tell the troop to “Grab your goggles./Pack your pail./We’re going to the beach.” There, they fish and splash, dive and float, make a castle, shake out sand, and have a hug before heading home. Warren’s cheerful cartoon illustrations match the rhyming text and give the reader support if any of the 35 words need some figuring out. The pictures provide good support for figuring out the words and it is a treat to see such a jaunty dad depicted with a mustache and goatee. This “Rookie Reader,” Level A, supports the emergent or beginning reader. 2002, Children’s Press, $16.00. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).
Jo’s presentations are geared for children in grades K-6. She talks to the kids about her books, the writing process, the publishing process, and her career as a writer. Her presentations include:
Overhead transparencies enhance this talk about avenues and excitement of research, using Jo’s books as a basis. This program is for children in grades 3-6.
The Magic of Words
In this program young students will learn the power and magic of words and the basic structure of a story.
Birds of the Southeast
A slide presentation for any age.
Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils
This presentation will give samples and overhead slides to enhance this talk on earth’s treasures for 3rd-6th grades.
Dead Log Alive!
A hands-on presentation for small groups which allows for discovering some of the many creatures and plants that make use of a tree after it dies. For all ages.
The price is $650 per day plus travel expenses, including hotel, mileage or airfare, and meals.
To learn more about Jo Kittinger and her publications please visit www.jokittinger.com.