As a child, Shu-Hsien fell in love with stories. She, her younger sister, and younger brother grew up listening to their father’s real-life wild adventures as a lone boy traveling in wartime China and Taiwan. When she was five, she and her family moved from Taiwan to Vancouver, Canada. When she arrived in the U.S. she refused to speak in class. Overtime, she began to speak this foreign language called English. By second grade, she discovered the world of reading. She was hooked; every picture book and chapter book opened up new worlds of fantasy, history, and imagination. To this day, her favorites include the Dr. Seuss rhyming series, Ramona the Pest, Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, and A Wrinkle in Time.
In fifth grade, Shu-Hsien met another shy girl named Judith. Their teacher wisely paired them together and they quickly learned that they had two things in common: they were bookworms and they secretly aspired to be published authors. Shu-Hsien and Judith lived down the street from each other, so they often spent afternoons together brainstorming sci-fi and fantasy story ideas and writing.
Fast forward to high school and college years in Southern California: Shu-Hsien’s friends and classmates often approached her to review their essays. “Does this paragraph make sense?” or “Do you think my main message is clear?” they would ask. Shu-Hsien had fun giving feedback.
In graduate school in Cambridge MA, Shu-Hsien worked as are reviewer providing feedback and editing suggestions at the University Learning Center. “Hmm… I wonder if I could do this after grad school?” she thought.
At the behest of a friend, who knew Shu-Hsien could speak Mandarin and French and would be perfect as an assistant English instructor at a Palo Alto immersion school, Shu-Hsien happily returned to California, fleeing the bitter winters of the East Coast.
Her lead teachers taught with enthusiasm, playfulness, and compassion. Here, among 24 energetic children, Shu-Hsien learned how to inspire curiosity and imagination. She was fascinated by the use of visual, kinesthetic, auditory games, tools, and hands-on projects to teach language, story, and the stepping-stones towards reading and writing.
Her preferred entertainment was reading, discovering excellent children’s books, and meeting new authors at the local libraries and bookstores.
For more than ten years of English instruction, Shu-Hsien has promoted the following in her teaching methodology.
- Make learning fun
- Play with games, toys, songs, humor, and silly situations to teach
- Show pictures, engage the 5 senses, and perform stories
- Create a highly interactive space, move our bodies, and provide choices
- Focus on the positive. Praise and encourage towards a desired behavior.
- Be specific, ask questions, and be open to feedback. “What did the dinosaur do when he fell into the big hole?”
- Children are natural storytellers. Let them own their voice by letting them tell their story their way first. Then, we can we build on their skills
- Allow children to draw a picture to set the movie in their minds in motion. Then, ask for the story. They will give you great details and action.
With a love of children’s books, both Shu-Hsien and Royd worked for many years at the Linden Tree Children’s Bookstore in Los Altos, California. They studied the ways of writers, illustrators, and publishers in the book industry. Some of the most influential meetings were with authors such as Peggy Rathman, Tomi DePaola, Jan Brett, Nancy Farmer, John Scienszka, Lane Smith, Hillary Knight, and Brian Selznick. During their time at Linden Tree, Royd and Shu-Hsien created their own small children’s book writing group that met in the bookstore’s courtyard.
Soon, parents asked Shu-Hsien to tutor their elementary and high school students in English grammar, creative writing, expository essays, research papers, and college admissions essays. Her popularity with her successful students spawned small group workshops.
In May and July 2009, Shu-Hsien and Royd founded the Bay Area Young Writers Meetup and the Bay Area Teen Writers Meetup. Through generous host families and local non-profits, they were able to teach their workshops in various locations. Our Meetup families travel to Palo Alto from San Francisco, Concord, Berkeley, Pleasanton, San Jose, and Morgan Hill. As of August 2013, they have over 350 members in their writing clubs.
Today, between the Bay Area Young Writers and Teen Meetups, Shu-Hsien and Royd have published four anthologies of their students stories.
• Strokes of Lightning: Amazing Hero Stories. The Bay Area Young Writers Anthology. Edited by Shu-Hsien Ho. ISBN-13: 978-1461081760, 160 pages
• Real Heroes Wear Sneakers: The Bay Area Teen Writers Anthology. Edited by Shu-Hsien Ho. ISBN: 978-1461130260
• Bones of Mystery. The Bay Area Young Writers Anthology. Edited by Shu-Hsien Ho. ISBN: 978-1479264711 (Limited Edition available at our Meetups)
• Encroaching Ink: The Bay Area Teen Writers Anthology. Edited by Shu-Hsien Ho. ISBN: 978-1480091528 (Limited Edition available at our Meetups.)