OSU-Tulsa graduate turns love of literature into career as children’s author
As a mother and a teacher, Brenda Maier always loved writing and books.
But it was an OSU-Tulsa class that brought to mind sweet memories of reading to her children and reignited her dream of becoming an author.
“I had a wonderful children's lit teacher who would bring in a rolling cart full of books to engage us in a wide range of children's literature,” Maier said. “Sometimes I'd go right out and buy the book she showed us in class. I remember doing that with Antoinette Portis' Not a Box. It wasn't what I'd expected a children’s book to be.”
In that class, Maier learned that children’s books are a very specific art form.
“Professor Jennifer Sanders really expanded my perspective of what a picture book could be,” Maier said. “I’d already been thinking about writing for young adults. But as I thought about how fun all of those books were, I decided I wanted to try to write for a younger reader.”
Sanders is interim associate dean of Education Research and Graduate Studies and associate professor of education at OSU.
Maier’s first children’s book, Little Red Fort, has just been released by Scholastic Press. A second book, Peeping Beauty, is set to be released next year by Simon & Schuster imprint Aladdin.
Reading to her children was the inspiration
As a child, Maier said she has no memory of anyone reading to her.
“I knew books were special because I didn’t have very many of them,” she said. “It was a high school teacher who changed the direction of my life.”
Maier had planned to follow in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps and get a job after high school rather than attend college. But a high school literature teacher saw her talent and encouraged her to enter a statewide academic contest. She won first place in the Shakespeare division.
“I was stunned. It was right then that I knew I wanted to find a way to go to college,” Maier said.
After graduating from a state university with an undergraduate degree in education, Maier earned a Master of Teaching, Learning and Leadership at OSU-Tulsa.
“OSU-Tulsa allowed me to get the degree I wanted while managing other aspects of my life,” she said.
As she pursued her master’s degree, Maier also cared for her five children who now range in age from 10- to 18-years-old and works as a teacher for gifted students at Union Public Schools. She plans to continue teaching despite her literary success.
Her own kids continue to inspire her in her new adventure as a children’s book author.
“The best parenting moments have been the times we've snuggled on the sofa to read. I love the conversations that stories spark. I love the hope and happy endings,” Maier said. “I wanted to write books that would allow other parents and kids to share special moments like I had with my children.”