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Teachers say lessons are learned best through stories

By Barbara Routen
Special Correspondent
Published: June 24, 2015
PROVIDED Belinda Kramer, of Brandon, author of 'Jesus and the Children of Galilee.'"

BRANDON — Authors from Central Florida will meet readers and sign copies of their books from noon to 2 p.m. June 20 at the Brandon Barnes & Noble, 122 Brandon Town Center Drive.

Among them are local, first-time children’s writers Gay Wasik-Zegel and Belinda Kramer.

Thirty-one years as an elementary school librarian and teacher taught Wasik-Zegel that the best learning happens through stories. To show kids they can do more if they first stop and listen, she created a rhythmic, rhyming book, “Stop Means Stop,” about an active boy named Charlie.

“Young children are particularly attentive to rhythm and rhyme, so I thought this would be a fun way to get an important message across,” she said. “With rhyming text, there are plenty of opportunities for interaction when used as a read-aloud.”

Wasik-Zegel is a poet who has always wanted to write children’s stories. Since retiring in 2012 and marrying Don Zegel, formerly of Valrico, she has had time to realize her dream.

She wrote the story in two weeks, but it took another six months of work to complete it, with help from the Florida Writers Association, her writing group, and Cricket Cottage Publishing.

The couple resides in St. Petersburg but attend First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, where Wasik-Zegel sings in the praise band which her husband leads.

There are “many similarities between musical and written expression,” said this rhythmic, rhyming poet. Lyrics have always moved her, but after attending many concerts by the Florida Orchestra, from which her husband just retired as second-chair trombonist, “I now hear the story in the music like never before.”


For lifetime Brandon-resident Belinda Kramer, inspiration hooked her imagination when she saw two young boys throwing a fishing net off a dock and spawned her first young-adult, historical-fiction novel “Jesus and the Children of Galilee.”

Kramer wondered, “What if two little boys were the first to meet Jesus when he started preaching in Galilee? What if he decided to select two junior disciples to lead other children?”

She based the 112-page chapter book’s events on actual Biblical accounts and created fictional brothers, 10 and 12, who befriend Jesus while fishing from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They follow him and witness his miracles, telling his story from a child’s perspective.

“I wanted readers to feel like they could hear Jesus talking on a personal level to them,” she said. “We know that Jesus loved children because he clearly said in the scriptures we had to become like one of them to enter into his kingdom.”

Kramer, 54, is a Burns Middle School Spanish teacher, wife of local attorney Jack Kramer, and mother of two children, 19 and 21. She loved writing as a child and was encouraged by her parents and a Brandon High School English teacher, Claudeen Boyd, who made her believe she could write.

Kramer studied journalism and majored in public relations. Through her affiliation with the Brandon Christian Writers and Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat, she met Ambassador International’s Tim Lowry, who published her book.

“If your dream is to write and publish, join a writers group that can encourage and direct you,” she said. “When doubt keeps you from submitting, the group will get you to the point when you can, and then it’s a beautiful thing when they celebrate your publishing accomplishment with you.”

Barnes & Noble’s local author event also will include Sam Black, “Fatal Serum;” Kenneth Kelly, “Trespassing through Time;” Gerald Anderson Sr., “Standing Firm;” Steve Altier, “Gabby and Maddox’s Adventures in Italy;” and Rose Gardner, “My Life as a Doormat.”

A portion of their book sales will benefit the Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County.

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