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Ann Rubino '86 - Sharing the Past Through Words

Ann Rubino ’86 began her educational pursuit to obtain a degree in Elementary Education, and later went on to serve as an adjunct faculty member at Lewis University training future teachers in methods of science teaching. It was after her retirement from teaching, however, that Ann found another career path that trumped retirement – published author.

“My husband always told stories to the kids and grandkids of his time growing up in Italy,” says Ann. “Once I retired and wasn’t so busy, I thought it might be a good idea to write down his stories and preserve them for future generations of our family. With some encouragement from my kids, the idea evolved into making these memories into a book that could be enjoyed not just by our family, but by others. And that’s how the whole route to publishing started.”

Ann, who holds a holds a MT(ASCP), B.A.Ed., and M.S. Ed. and an Endorsement in Gifted Education, began the simultaneously arduous and joyous task of assembling her husband’s stories in a way that would appeal to children.

Her husband had left Italy at age 12 in 1948, and Ann found that there were many more stories of growing up in Italy that were tucked into the hearts of the family’s Italian friends. She began writing those stories down, too. After many drafts and revisions, the idea for “Peppino, Good as Bread” came to fill page after page of her first novel.

Peppino would not become just any novel; it would become a way for children to understand a piece of the history of World War II. The story focuses on a little boy, Peppino, and his journey through World War II in Italy as he struggles to survive day to day with his mother. While she’s written the story for children to read, she’s found that many adults have been interested in reading it as well.

“The experiences of these men and women are important because life was so different during that time period. Peppino is forced to live in a basement by the Fascist mayor commandeering his home. When today’s children think of living in a basement, they might think of video games and television while relaxing on a comfortable couch in a finished basement, which is far from how this little boy in World War II lived. It’s important for them to see how difficult life was for their ancestors and how much these men and women had to overcome to give them the life they now have. And it’s vital for those who went through those experiences to share their life stories because they were relevant and important.”

As an experienced educator, Ann was able to tailor her writing to middle school readers. She did plenty of research on dates and locations to properly build the setting and the plotline for the book. For pieces of the puzzle that needed to be included, such as certain war-time events that young Peppino would not have actually witnessed in person, she built them into conversations or other ways for the little boy to hear about what was happening out in the world.

With the first book under her belt, Ann began the journey onto her second novel “Emmet’s Storm”. This book is set in Northern Iowa in 1888. Emmet is a socially awkward little boy with a mind for science. During a blizzard, he has theories for why the stove flame is burning a certain color and the consequences, but making others believe in him is a major hurdle. Again, her book focuses on middle school students and teaches them something while providing an interesting plotline to keep their attention.

“Emmet loves science and he’s always drawing out his plans and ideas, and we’ve included drawings within the story to capture the attention of children,” says Ann. “I want each story to take the children on an adventure and show them there is so much more out there in the world to learn about.”

And with two books under her belt, Ann still has more ideas and has no plans to stop writing. She has an extensive background in education which will continue to inspire both her stories and how she writes them. Ann has sat on the review board of Science & Children magazine and has worked as a consultant for the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago.

“Writing is something I love to do, just as teaching is,” says Ann. “I want to inspire children to learn more and read more. There’s always something out there to seek to understand, and I enjoy having the opportunity to be a part of that learning process.”

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