Welcome to visitors to my websites. My name is Josie Whitehead and I'm a retired teacher and also, in my retirement from teaching I've become a popular children's poet. In fact Google Analytics tells me that my poems go out to 188 countries of the world which, to me is amazing. I believe that I've written about 1,350 poems. Need I say more than I enjoy writing, especially when I know that children in their homes and classrooms, and perhaps elsewhere on tablets, mobile phones etc, are receiving them and enjoying them.
My story starts in a strange way. I almost died some years ago when I pricked my left wrist on a rose bush in my garden and picked up a streptococcal infection. Mr Ravindran at Airedale Hospital tells me that I am one in a million to have survived this. At one point I was told that I would not use my left hand again because the connection between the brain and the hand had been severed by this dreadful infection. I went to a healing service at our church and within hours I could move my hand and fingers again. I thanked God for this and asked Him to show me what he wanted me to do with these extra years because I am a typist and this is one of my main skills in life. I discovered many years later when, in 2007, I volunteered to go into my local primary school for one hour a week to help, as many people do, what God had in mind for me. Six months into my visits the children I met were "fed up" with a poem they'd just had in class, ie a sentence spiralling down the page. They said they liked poems written with rhyme and rhythm and especially if the words tell a story or pictures are painted with words in the poem. And so I, who had only ever written one poem for my school magazine at the age of 11 (My Garden), volunteered to write one poem for them. They liked it so much that they wanted more and more. Week by week, year by year, class by class I continued writing poems that I knew children would love, and I tried them on these children weekly. If you look at the reference from their headmaster (above) you'll see that the children's love of poetry grew from my visits. I do believe that if you write for children, then it is children who should judge your work - not by attending writing courses or entering competitions which are judged by adults.
In 2010, almost 400 poems - all that I'd written then - were published in five books by Mr S Sharp, AMS Educational Ltd, Leeds, formerly publisher for Edward Arnold Educational Publisher, London - a name on every school, college and university book when I was young. I'm probably the most published poet for children. What an honour for me!! The poems had been chosen over a 9 month market-research programme in many schools right across West Yorkshire, England. Unfortunately you won't be able to buy these books now as
Mr Sharp sold his business and retired and the new publishing company don't publish poetry. I have the copyright back on all my work and am pleased that you all can read my poems freely from my five internet websites now. I'm now also published by Oxford University Press and CGP Books (which serves 90% of the educational market).
My two other honours were quite unexpected. In 2007 I was approached by an editor of a children's online newspaper who told me that I had been chosen by the children in 133 countries for the grand title: 'Inspirational Poet of the Year 2007.' The second surprise came when the telephone went one day and a lady from Linked-in told me that I'd been nominated as 'the most linked woman in the world' by the Linked-in team and that I'd beaten 13 million others for this title. In fact I'd done nothing myself except that I'd been linked to immediately I joined Linked-in by thousands of teachers and educationalists worldwide because of my poems. It had kept me very busy answering their messages. So Grannies can win titles on social networks I'm pleased to say.
I'm still writing and am well known. I visit classrooms worldwide via skype and, as a retired teacher, I feel quite at home skyping into classrooms. I'm making hundreds of friends with children and their teachers and it seems to me that God knew just what he was doing when he spared me after the dreadful streptococcal infection which had almost finished me off.
I'd love to visit you and your children via skype for a short time and read them a poem, inspire them with my poems and be part of their lives. It seems that I now have a new place in the world of children and their teachers.
God bless you all. Josie Whitehead