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Press Releases

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

United No More!

Victory or Death!

New Haven's Project DREAM Book Program

Asian Myths & Legends Anthology

All Things Chinese

Millennium Time Capsule


Monroe Author To Read Her Work from New Anthology, Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage

MONROE - February 12, 2009 - Children's book author Joan Verniero will read at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library at 1:30 p.m. to adults and school-age children on the school holiday February 13, 2009 from her recently published biographical pieces in Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage.

The event is part of the national wave of celebrations of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial.

This is Verniero's fifth event at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, and she will read excerpts of her anthology contributions, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic: Julia Ward Howe", and "'With Malice Toward None': Abraham Lincoln and Noah Brooks".

In Verniero's first story, Julia Ward Howe and friends witness a skirmish at McClellan's parade grounds, and Julia returns to Willard's Hotel to write "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

In the second story, the close acquaintance of the president and reporter Noah Brooks is an eyewitness at Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural. Both stories were written with Doreen Rappaport and published in 2006 by HarperCollins Children's Books with others in United No More! Stories of the Civil War.

The anthology Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage has a beautiful, richly outlined cover with a collage inset of Mr. Lincoln in his seat in the Lincoln Memorial surrounded by people, old and young, of many colors and shapes.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage hosts over 250 pages of poems, lyrics, music, one acts, fiction, biography and non-fiction for adults and children and was published by The National League of American Pen Women (arts, music and letters). Verniero is a member of the Fairfield County branch. Nationwide, NLAPW has 4,000 members.

"It is an honor to have the stories included in the Lincoln anthology to help celebrate this important bicentennial at this important time in our country's history," says author Joan Verniero. The NLAPW challenged members last year to submit pieces in the many genres to reflect Lincoln the man, his time, his philosophy and his persuasive language.

Verniero is a staunch advocate for the importance of reading aloud to children to support their literacy. Research indicates that reading to children offers many positive outcomes, including developing children's interest in reading and their ability to respond to literature.

Author Joan Verniero teaches in the English department at Masuk High School. She instructs graduate level teachers in writing at University of Bridgeport. In summers past Verniero has taught middle grade Monroe students to write at the town library.

On February 13th from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. she will talk about research and writing. Verniero will sign copies of the new anthology Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage that will be for sale. Proceeds from book sales will be used by NLAPW to establish a Lincoln Legacy Scholarship for student literary works of merit that exemplify Lincoln's contributions to the American ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity.

Call Lorna Rhyins, Adult Services Librarian, at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library at 203-459-2850 for more information.


United No More! Stories of the Civil War Reading at Monroe Public Library

Monroe resident, author, and teacher, Joan Verniero will read an excerpt from her new book: United No More! Stories of the Civil War at the Monroe Public Library on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 3:00 p.m. Joan's previous book, Victory or Death! Stories of the American Revolution was "praised for bringing true stories to life in realistic detail -- a style in a starred review that Kirkus Reviews called "a model of excellent historical writing." Victory or Death! has just been awarded the 2005 Beacon of Freedom Award, an annual children's literature award that focuses on early American history. United No More! continues in this award-winning style of writing with short narratives of people on both sides of the Civil War. Joan will read her story of Eugenia Phillips, who was unjustly imprisoned in New Orleans for supposedly laughing during the funeral procession of a Union officer.


Victory or Death: Stories of the American Revolution Chosen as 2005 Beacon of Freedom Award Winner

Colonial Williamsburg, Regional Library Team Up to Promote History in the Schools WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Area Regional Library announced the 2005 winner of the Beacon of Freedom Award (BOFA). "Victory or Death: Stories of the American Revolution" by Doreen Rappaport and Joan Verniero is a collection of eight short stories that highlights culturally diverse heroes of the American Revolution. In their introduction, the authors state, "We've tried to reflect the many cultures in America during that time."

Francis Salvador, a Jew, risked his life to sign South Carolinians to the loyalty oath. James Armistead, an African American, spied on Benedict Arnold at the command of his friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. Sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington rode 40 miles through dangerous territory to rally her father's militia company. The stories of Bunker Hill and George Washington crossing the Delaware include the support of African-American soldiers and a Quaker officer. Selections about Abigail Adams; Deborah Samson; and Grace Growden Galloway, a loyalist whose husband fought with the British, also are included.

BOFA is an annual children's literature award that focuses on early American history up to 1865. Each year fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from the City of Williamsburg, James City County and Bruton District of York County schools select their favorite book from eight titles thatarenominated by the BOFA committee.

"The Beacon of Freedom Award is always special because the children who read the books choose the winner," said John Hornback, chairman of the committee and an inventory buyer for Colonial Williamsburg. "This program gives area students an opportunity to have fun reading about our country's history and realize 'that the future learns from the past'."

The award will be presented at a reception 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at WILLIAMSBURG® Booksellers, which is located in
Colonial Williamsburg's Visitor Center.

Books submitted for consideration for the award have a history line between 1607 and 1865, and are in the following categories: Biography, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Illustrations/Picture Book. In addition to "Victory or Death," the other candidates for the BOFA award were: "Don't Know Much About the Pilgrims" and "Don't Know Much About Abraham Lincoln," both by Kenneth C. Davis; "Voyage of Patience Goodspeed" by Heather Vogel Frederick; "Revolutionary John Adams" by Cheryl Harness; and "George Washington's Teeth" by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora.

Participating schools included: Rawls Byrd Elementary School, Norge Elementary School, Waller Mill Elementary School, Magruder Elementary School, Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School, Matthew Whaley, James River Elementary School, Stonehouse Elementary School, D.M. Montague Elementary School, Williamsburg Montessori School, Williamsburg Christian Academy and Walsingham Academy Lower School.

BOFA is a volunteer committee created by Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Regional Library. BOFA takes its name from comments made by Colonial Williamsburg benefactor John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1934 that the restored city would serve as "a beacon light of freedom" to the rest of the world. The BOFA mission is to establish a greater awareness of history through reading with a target audience of students from the local schools.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at www.ColonialWilliamsburg.org.


Victory or Death! Stories of the American Revolution, A Unique and Timely Look at the Personal Effects of War

Joan Verniero's April 2003 book, Victory or Death! Stories of the American Revolution, is a timely, multicultural biography for children about eight heroes and heroines of the Revolutionary War. It is published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

Says Verniero, "It should offer food for thought for today's children and help adults answer immediate, sensitive questions about war, who participates, and why."

The author will be a "Spotlight" guest at Barnes and Noble, Danbury, on Sunday, April 27th, at 3:00 p.m. She will read from the work and sign copies. Joining her is Brigid Durkin of the Danbury Museum, who will present artifacts from the American Revolution. Richard Light, whom the author interviewed during her research, will also speak of his descent from both Sybil Ludington and a Wappinger Indian.

New Haven will be the site of Verniero's first public presentation of the new book, on April 15th, hosted by Project D.R.E.A.M., for which she is a long-time volunteer. The program, sponsored by New Haven Public Schools, brings inner-city schoolchildren to book stores to meet authors and their books.

"Will provide a huge heaping of richness and insight into the personal challenges, sacrifices, and heroics played out during the war," says Christopher Collier about Victory or Death! He is Connecticut state historian, professor emeritus of history at the University of Connecticut.

How did sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington rally her father's militia after the British burned Danbury? What was it like for George Washington and his troops as they crossed the Delaware River in a ferocious snowstorm late in the evening of Christmas Day 1776? How did James Armistead, a slave in Virginia, spy for Lafayette and the Americans and win his freedom?

Victory or Death! Stories of the American Revolution, written with Doreen Rappaport, targets the 8-12 year-old audience. The stories transport young readers to the years of the American Revolution through the actions of real people. Some are famous and others are not-yet-celebrated. The eight stories in the volume provide inspiring and riveting glimpses into the lives of people who took part in the fight for independence--on the battlefield and off.

The illustrated book has earned a starred review from Kirkus Rreviews. "With a knack for seeing the story in history, Rappaport and Verniero offer real-life accounts of heroes of the American Revolution. ... a model of excellent historical writing."

Verniero and her co-author are at work on a follow-up multicultural biography about more American heroes and heroines. United No More! Stories of the American Civil War, will also be published by HarperCollins.

Verniero's first children's book, You Can Call Me Willy, published in 1995, was the only book for children selected by "Good Morning America" for inclusion in the television network's "Millennium Time Capsule 2000." Published by Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association, the book, for ages four to eight, is a story about an eight-year-old girl with AIDS who wants to play baseball. She has written four collections of myths and legends from around the world. Her most recent book of read-aloud stories, 101 Asian Read-Aloud Myths And Legends, published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, is an anthology of stories from China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. She also authored 101 Read-Aloud Celtic Myths and Legends, 101 Read-Aloud Bible Stories and 101 Read-Aloud Myths from Around the World for Children, written with Robin C. Fitzsimmons.

Verniero teaches Literature for Children at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut. Also, she has been a guest lecturer at other colleges and educational venues including Hartford College for Women, University of Bridgeport, The Discovery Museum (Bridgeport), Masuk High School (Monroe), Education Connection (Danbury), and Connecticut Reading Association. In addition, she conducts individual and group class instruction in creative writing for children and adults.

Verniero is a graduate of Seton Hall University where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Modern Languages. She earned a master's degree in Early Childhood from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City.

The author attended the Vassar Institute of Children's Literature where she worked under the mentorship of children's editor Barbara Lucas and author Margery Facklam.

In the early '70s, Verniero ran an after-school enrichment program for city children and was director of the experimental Rainbow's End school for children three to eight in New York City.

Verniero is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Authors Guild, Bank Street College Writers Lab, The National League of American Pen Women and the International Reading Association. Her articles and short stories have been published in a variety of consumer and professional publications, including Education Week, Psychological Perspectives and Women and Recovery, among others.

When she is not researching non-traditional, non-sexist, racially-, ethnically-, gender-unbiased literature for children, the author/teacher culls her many ideas from dancing and long walks in the Connecticut woods.

The writer has traveled extensively in Europe and North America, and she speaks fluent Spanish and French.

Verniero lives with her Labrador retriever, Manny, on two-acres of woodlands in rural Monroe, Connecticut. She is a former Danbury resident.


Children's Book Author Kicks Off 13th Season for New Haven's Project DREAM Book Program

NEW HAVEN - October 15, 2001...Children's book author Joan Verniero will kick off the New Haven Public School System's Project DREAM (Developing Reading, Education and Motivation) Tuesday, October 23 at 10 a.m. at the Foundry Bookstore, 33 Whitney Avenue.

Project DREAM is a unique educational program in which the school system and four area bookstores join in bringing students and authors together.

Verniero, a Monroe-based author and college educator, will read You Can Call Me Willy (A Story for Children About AIDS) to Strong School fourth graders. Published in 1995, the book was selected by ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" for inclusion in the television network's "Millennium Time Capsule 2000." It was the only children's book included in the capsule.

Verniero is among 20 authors who will participate in the 37 Project DREAM sessions scheduled between now and April. In addition to the Foundry, programs will take place at Atticus Bookstore, 1082 Chapel Street, Blackprint Heritage Gallery, 162 Edgewood Ave., and the Yale Bookstore, 77 Broadway, this school year. Last year, nearly 900 elementary and middle school students from the city's Title I schools participated in the book program, said Ann Verderame, Project DREAM coordinator. Verderame said the program's purpose is to give students the experience in visiting a bookstore and meeting an author. Simultaneously, the experience builds reading skills and social development through the discussion of the book's themes and ideas and the attitudes and values reflected in the books.

The school system purchases a copy of the author's book for each student well in advance of meeting the author. Prior to the meeting, the classroom teacher prepares for the visit by engaging students in pre-activity sessions related to the book's academic and social issues.


You Can Call Me Willy is the story of Wilhelmina (Willy) Jones, an 8-year-old African American girl who loves baseball. She lives with her grandmother and suffers from AIDS. Throughout the story, Will talks about her illness. She exhibits exceptional strength and courage as she learns to cope with its symptoms, the side effects of treatment and the adversity of her classmates, especially one who unsuccessfully attempts to thwart her aspirations to play Little League.

The character of Willy and the dilemma felt by children and parents in letting Willy have a normal childhood by being on "the team" is drawn from Verniero's personal experience as an educator in New York City in the mid-'80s when little was known about AIDS. At that time, Verniero witnessed first-hand the confusion and fear surrounding AIDS, especially among children.

As part of the Project DREAM program, some bookstores will present each students with an additional free book and/or a gift certificate, which will be used during a subsequent trip to the bookstore.

In addition to You Can Call Me Willy, Verniero recently published her latest book, 101 Asian Read-Aloud Myths And Legends, an anthology of stories from China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. She also authored 101 Read-Aloud Celtic Myths and Legends, 101 Read-Aloud Bible Stories and 101 Read-Aloud Myths from Children Around the World for, written with Robin C. Fitzsimmons.

Her book of stories, Victory or Death! Eight Stories of the American Revolution about the heroes and heroines of the Revolutionary War, written with Doreen Rappaport, will be published in 2003 by HarperCollins Children's Books.

Project DREAM was founded 13 years ago, by Tim Shriver then supervisor of the Social Development Department of the New Haven Public Schools. Shriver is now CEO of Special Olympics International, founded by his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.


Children's Book Author Publishes Asian Anthology

MONROE, CONNECTICUT - August 20, 2001...Children's book author Joan Verniero has published an anthology of Asian literature, 101 Asian Read-Aloud Myths and Legends. The anthology includes stories from China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

This is Verniero's fourth-in-a-series of 101 Read-Aloud Myths and Legends books, published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers of New York, which offer mystical beasts, heroes and heroines that excite and enthrall children of all ages. "Asian myths and legends distinguish themselves by their unique richness," Verniero said. "Humans interact not only with immortals and magic, but with demons, martial arts, shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, intelligent animals, dragons and mountains.

"The stories demonstrate a spirituality that runs through all of life - down to the lowest being," Verniero said. "In many instances, the heroes of Asian mythology are aided by supernatural creatures."

Mythology, the oldest existing literature, represents the stories of people and their heroes through the narrative of universal archetypes and their concerns about cosmic phenomena, foes and higher beings.

Myths demonstrate what is particular to a people as well as what is universal to all peoples. Myths show how individuals respond as members of a group and as human beings, in particular. Despite the uniqueness of behavior within a culture, individuals, no matter what their culture, answer to a higher power.

Verniero's "Read-Aloud" series offers two primary benefits.

First, the author believes that with the nation's current demographics, which represent marked increases in minority populations, mythology in a multicultural classroom enriches the educational experiences by enabling children to find common ground in appreciating literature from a distant land.. For example, there are several stories from China about Monkey, who embarks upon a hero's journey to self-understanding and empowerment. Monkey is a hero with real failings and good intentions. He has a strong moral fiber, and his struggles are universal.

Second, reading aloud offers educational benefits. Research shows that 20 minutes per day of reading aloud through the elementary grades improves learning and test scores for students. The anthology offers stories designed to be shared in this fashion. Reading aloud helps readers develop an awareness of language and an appreciation of literature. When teachers or parents read aloud, their enthusiasm for the story/text encourages children to read the books again on their own.

The read-aloud process expands a child's imagination and knowledge base, increases students' language acquisition, demonstrates expression and dramatic flair and influences the child to become a better reader with a richer understanding of new concepts.

Verniero says her books' myths and legends and their ability to spark a child's imagination facilitate these benefits in a child's learning.

The author's other books in the "Read-Aloud" series include: Read-Aloud Celtic Myths and Legends, Read-Aloud Bible Stories and Read-Aloud Myths from Around the World for Children, written with Robin C. Fitzsimmons.

Verniero's "Read-Aloud" series of books are tools for parents and teachers to use in facilitating children's listening and reading skills that form the foundation for life-long reading.

The author, who is also a college educator and founder of two New York City experimental education programs, knows that when adults read aloud, children discover the rewards of reading and become motivated in their desire to learn to read and eventually to read on their own.



All Things Chinese
Author to Read from Just Published Asian Myths & Legends Anthology As Long Lots Elementary School Culminates Chinese Studies


WESTPORT, June 4, 2001 - Author Joan Verniero of Monroe will read selections and tell stories to music from her recently published "101 Asian Read-Aloud Myths and Legends," at Long Lots Elementary School, 13 Hyde Lane, on Monday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. The author's visit is part of a program of activities for fourth graders, culminating the students' Chinese studies this past semester.

Verniero's book is her fourth in a series of "101 Read-Aloud Myths and Legends," published by Black Dog & Leventhal, which offer mystical beasts, heroes and heroines that excite and enthrall children of all ages.

The Asian anthology includes stories from China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

"Asian myths and legends distinguish themselves by their unique richness," Verniero said. "Humans interact not only with immortals and magic, but with demons, martial arts, shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, intelligent animals, dragons and mountains. Even the animals engage in shapeshifting. Some wear clothes," she said.

The stories demonstrate a spirituality that runs through all of life - down to the lowest being. In many instances, the heroes of Asian mythology are aided by supernatural creatures.

Verniero's program was at the invitation of Long Lots' library/media specialist, Susan Bachman, who is coordinating a variety of activities reflecting the Chinese culture for the day's celebration. This past year, the Westport Public School System was host to two teachers from China as part of the town's Sister-City program with Yangzou, China. The visiting teachers taught at Staples High School and at the elementary level, including Long Lots, where they taught fourth graders.

In addition to Verniero, the program will include demonstrations in calligraphy and Tai-chi, Bachman said.

Verniero will tell stories to five classes of fourth graders during two sessions in the library, from 10 a.m. to noon. Selections will include stories about "Monkey," who was born from a rock and embarks on a hero's journey, which leads to his self-understanding and empowerment.

"The stories are really fun," Verniero said. "Monkey is a hero with real failings and good intentions."

The author's other collections of read-aloud stories for children include: "Read-Aloud Myths and Legends," "Read-aloud Celtic Myths and Legends," and "Read-Aloud Bible Stories."

Verniero is an adjunct instructor in Children's Literature at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury. She is former director of the experimental Rainbow End's School for children 3 to 8 in New York City.

Her book of stories, "Victory or Death! Eight Stories of the American Revolution," written with Doreen Rappaport, will be published soon by HarperCollins Children's Books.

The author has an M.S.Ed. degree in Early Childhood Education and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.


Connecticut Author's Book Included in ABC-TV's Millennium Time Capsule

NEW YORK, December 20, 1999 - Author Joan Verniero's children's book, "You Can Call Me Willy," (A Story for Children about AIDS), has been included in ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" Millennium Time Capsule.

The book, first published in 1995, was the only children's book included in the Time Capsule, which the television network buried in Times Square, near its TV studio.

Buried in the Time Capsule were memorabilia that reflected life at the end of the 20th century. The items collected for the Time Capsule ranged from a cell phone and junk food, to Internet technology.

Verniero's picture book was selected for its subject matter, AIDS, and how a youngster learns to deal with the virus in the real world.

Author Verniero's approach in writing the book was to deal with the subject matter in a very real, sensitive, straight-forward manner from the perspective of a young innocent child trying to live a normal life.

Evidently ABC-TV producers recognized the author's sensitivity and the importance of including the book in the Time Capsule, buried beneath the pavement at the Crossroads of America.

"You Can Call Me Willy," is the story of Wilhelmina (Willy) Jones, an 8-year-old African American girl who loves baseball. She lives with her grandmother and suffers from AIDS. Throughout the story, Willy talks about her illness. She exhibits exceptional strength and courage as she learns to cope with its symptoms, the side effects of treatment, and the adversity from her classmates, especially those who attempted to thwart her aspirations to play Little League Baseball.

The character of Willy and the dilemma felt by children and parents in letting Willy have a normal childhood by being on "the team" is drawn from Verniero's personal experience as an educator in New York City in the early '80s when little was known about AIDS. At that time, Verniero witnessed first-hand the confusion and fear surrounding AIDS, especially among the children.

Willy's character gained dimension with the author's meeting a 6-year old Waterbury girl who was dying of AIDS at Danbury Hospital, where the author was doing medical research.

As Fred Hammond, executive director of Interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury noted, "Willy's story provides a human side to the virus from a child's perspective."

The title for the book came from a 1991 conference Verniero attended at Fordham University called, "Children of Loss." The forum was about orphans of people with AIDS, many of whom were IV drug users.

One man stood up and talked of how he had successfully completed drug rehabilitation and had reconciled with his two children only to learn he was infected with the HIV virus. When he spoke, he said, "You can call me Willy."

Verniero wrote the book to dispel the myths about AIDS for parents, but especially for young people, concerned that they would contract the disease.

"In the absence of objective, age-appropriate discussion, early-childhood fears relating to AIDS present a much greater threat to children's present emotional health than the likelihood of contracting the disease threatens their long-term physical health," Verniero says.

The book, written for children 4- to 8-years-old, was published by Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association. Magination Press specializes in books for children and their families. Written by professionals who work with children, the books deal with the treatment of behavioral, psychological, social, and medical problems faced by children in today's complicated world.

The School Library Journal describes "You Can Call Me Willy" as "touching...a fine introduction to understanding AIDS and coping with discrimination....Though the underlying truth of her disease is tragic, the story focuses on her strength and hope."

Verniero is currently co-authoring with Doreen Rappaport, "Victory or Death! Eight Stories of the American Revolution" to be published by HarperCollins Children's Book in 2003.

The author was a recent consultant for WonderTots, an enrichment program in science and discovery, for children 3 to 5, at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, Conn.

She has also written four collections of the "101 Read-Aloud" children's book series. These include "101 Asian Read-Aloud Myths and Legends, "101 Read-Aloud Celtic Myths and Legends," "101 Read-Aloud Bible Stories for Children" and "101 Read-Aloud Myths from Around the World for Children," co-authored with Robin C. Fitzsimmons.

A former New York City educator and founder of two experimental education programs, Verniero enjoys writing for young people. She enjoys the ability to tap into "that special place of beauty where young people live," she says.