Stacie Hutton took Indian Run Elementary School students on a virtual field trip to her home town last week.
The Dublin author visited the school Nov. 15 to talk about her book, “Shovelful of Sunshine,” and teach students about growing up in southeast Ohio among coal mines.
“I grew up in southeast Ohio and coal miners were everywhere,” Hutton said.
“They were deacons of church, school board members, I’ve always been intrigued by them,” she said.
After deciding to write the book, Hutton said she searched for primary sources and found several letters penned by coal miners.
“The letters that coal miners had written were deeply tender,” she said, noting they all showed an optimistic side even though a large part of their time was spent in the dark and in danger.
The book centers around Maggie, the daughter of a coal miner.
When she loses her dreams, her coal miner father shows her she can’t live in fear, Hutton said.
“It has a good universal message for kids: you can’t live your life in fear,” she said.
The book, illustrated by Cheryl Harness, has already taught a lesson to one Dublin child.
Hutton said a boy who read her book told her he learned “sometimes you have to be coal miner.”
At Indian Run last week, students learned about Appal-achian culture.
Although she embraces her home, Hutton has lived in Dublin since 2008 and her children attend Pinney Elementary School.
It doesn’t mean, however, she doesn’t enjoy talking about home.
During her talk, Hutton showed students maps of the Appalachia area and talked about how people who live there need to be self sufficient.
They also need to be creative to keep themselves entertained, Hutton said, showing students a quilt crafted by her husband’s family.
“In the mountains you’re isolated from everything else,” she told students.
“Your days are filled with creativity. You have to do everything yourself.”
People from Appalachia are often songwriters or storytellers, Hutton told students.
Students also learned a little about coal.
Questions from students ranged from how coal miners get to mines to how they get coal out of the ground.
Hutton is no stranger to education and was a specialist for gifted students for 10 years.
Although this is her first children’s book, Hutton has penned teacher resource books and now creates applications for tablet computers and other electronics.
“They are reading comprehension apps for any parent that feels like their child may need extra classes for testing in school,” she said.
Hutton’s book is available at amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble.