Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Today, we are pleased to share with you our interview with Theresa Cocci, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-Winning children’s book, Harry’s Horrible Hair! Harry’s Horrible Hair is a story about a downhearted little dog who is saddened by the stares and laughter of others who only see his horrible hair. It is a wonderful book that teaches young children that true beauty and confidence do not stem from their physical appearance but from what lies within. Keep reading to find out more about Theresa and her amazing book, Harry’s Horrible Hair!
MCA: Hi Theresa! Thanks for giving us your time today and congratulations on winning a Mom’s Choice Award! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Theresa: My career has included working for thirty years as a classroom teacher, music education specialist in early childhood, and piano instructor. I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Kutztown University and Orff Schulwerk Music Certification from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. My graduate coursework has included study in early childhood and folk music at West Chester University and the University of Hartford.
I am actively involved with the American Orff Schulwerk musical organization and the Music Teachers National Association and an active member of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. I enjoy attending book critique and writing workshops and conferences virtually and in person.
In my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, getting together with our big family, taking long walks, and being together with my husband, Son, and our pup, Molly.
MCA: Thirty years, that is a very long career! How has that teaching career influenced you in your writing?
Theresa: Crafting a story that teaches a certain concept in language arts, math, or social studies, for example, has helped my students, I believe to better grasp their understanding of that concept. Encouraging my students to become actively involved in the process of creating and sharing stories has reinforced their learning experience and has sparked my imagination to create.
MCA: It’s always wonderful when you can incorporate different methods into ways of teaching. What sparked your imagination to create Harry’s Horrible Hair?
Theresa: The inspiration for writing, “Harry’s Horrible Hair,” originated from our family dog. When we were looking at puppies for our Son, who was six years old at that time, he fell in love with a puppy who had been the only one left in the litter. The puppy had quite a scraggly appearance. His hair was quite thin, patchy, and stuck out rather spikey and sparse. It did not matter to our Son and they formed a bond as soon as he held him in his arms.
MCA: That is such a sweet story! Harry’s Horrible Hair does a great job of showcasing the importance of inner beauty. Can you tell us more about the key lessons that can be found within this book?
Theresa: Sometimes we tend to look and judge a person by their outward appearance, but it is the inside, the “heart” of that person that makes them special. There are many ways to let others know that you value them. A kind word, a smile, a kind act are all ways to let others know that they are special.
MCA: That is so very true, too often we underestimate the power of a small gesture. You spoke a little about how your storytelling has helped you in your teaching career. Why is it important for you to have themes of introducing life lessons and problem-solving for young children in your writing?
Theresa: I believe it is important to help young children find their own path and learn to solve their problems. It is important to discuss their feelings and creatively find ways to resolve a conflict. Stories are an excellent means to promote discussion with young children and validate their feelings.
MCA: We couldn’t agree more! What kind of response from readers have you received?
Theresa: I have enjoyed a variety of responses from all different ages. For example, after sharing my book with a second-grade class, a student ran over to her desk and was so excited to show me her story that she had begun writing. Parents have shared with me how they have enjoyed the message of the book and had discussions with their children. I particularly enjoyed one response from a young daughter who told her Mom, she did not want to comb her hair today, because she wanted to have messy hair like Harry.
MCA: Oh my goodness, that is so precious! If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Theresa: Each child, each person is unique. I believe it is important for children to recognize their uniqueness and understand that we may look different in other people’s eyes, but you matter. Your heart is the key that unlocks your inner beauty to others.
MCA: That it does. Thank you again for joining us and for a wonderful interview, Theresa!
You can learn more about Theresa Cocci and her award-winning book, Harry’s Horrible Hair by visiting her MCA Shop pages.