by Mike Knaak
In the years ahead, when Sartell parents and children look back on the trying and challenging times of 2020, they will also be able to remember how the community never lost hope, thanks to a book by a third-grade teacher and her daughter.
Shannan Houghton and her ninth-grade daughter, Lilly, created “Grounded,” a book that tells the story of how a tree starts from a seed and how it has to change.
This book is an A-to-Z collection of words related to COVID-19 and illustrated with local photos. Houghton found the silver linings that surrounded her community during these uncertain times. She chose the title, because, she said, “it’s life lessons that keep us rooted and grounded. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
A growing oak tree illustrated by Lilly is the metaphor for the tale.
On a page illustrated with a seed growing into a tall and strong tree, Houghton writes:
“The seasons changed; and the children grew.
The people changed: and the community grew.
The perspectives changed; and the appreciation grew.
The priorities changed; and the families grew.
The hearts changed; and the love grew.”
Houghton collected hundreds of photos of local people to illustrate the words with each letter of the alphabet.
For Q, an easy choice: Quarantine. But the Q page also reminds us of a Quest for a cure, Quality time, Quilts that comfort, and Quiet moments.
Houghton said she’s always wanted to write a book.
“During shelter in place in March, I woke up and thought now is the time,” she said. “What could I do to mark history for my students?”
As a coach, Houghton says she tells her athletes to focus on the positive. As a community “we’re making history,” she said. “We should document how we’re making history. Our community never lost hope.”
The book has been out since Oct. 30 and is available online at www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/8769774/7d4ca5e9780eda1aa32545a5ae6f7fbaf7c998e3#. Houghton says it’s fun to open and find heartfelt messages of thanks and photos of kids reading the book before bedtime.
“I want my students to remember this time,” Houghton said. “We forget all of these things unless they are documented.”