I have been reading AnnieFox’s tweets and blog for several years and, as a parent, I find her information to be extremely valuable. I admire this woman who, at a young age, decided that helping kids was going to be her life’s work. It is obvious that Annie is passionate about that work. Parents and t(w)eens: do yourselves a favor and check out Annie’s stuff!
Bio: Annie Fox, M.Ed. is an award-winning author and student/parent/teacher educator with 30+ years experience focusing on kids’ healthy Social & Emotional Development. Annie’s books include: Too Stressed to Think? and the new Middle School Confidential series. Her new book, Teaching Kids To Be Good People, will be published by Electric Eggplant in September 2012. Learn more about Annie at: AnnieFox.com
Peggy: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Annie: I grew up on Long Island, New York and went to college and grad school in Upstate New York. I live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area.
Peggy: You wrote your first book People Are Like Lollipops before you were old enough to legally sign the contract! How did you pull off getting a book published at such a young age? And how many books have you written since?
Annie: The publication of the first book was a fluke of timing. I worked that summer in the library and the Children’s librarian was kind enough to show my story (which I also illustrated) to a friend of hers who was an editor at Holiday House. Within days I had a contract! Let me tell you, it was surreal! Including that first one, I have had (give me a minute and let me count…) a total of 7 books published, plus a Read-to-Me iBook. I’ve also got an ebook for parents & teachers coming out in September.
Peggy: Why did you decide to focus your work on helping teens?
Annie: I’ve always been fascinated by people like Dear Abby, even as a kid; I used to cover up Abby’s answers and try to figure out what I would say to the person writing in for advice. In 1996, my own kids were 11 & 17. While doing my share of carpooling with them and their friends, I found my calling… giving advice to middle and high school students! In 1997 we launch my teen website (TheInSite.org ) and the email questions from around the world started pouring in. It’s been 15 years and it hasn’t stopped yet! Since 1997, everything I’ve written and spoken about has been with the intention of helping t(w)eens make choices that reflect who they really are (vs. who their friends expect them to be!).
Peggy: After receiving your Master’s in Education, you worked as a teacher until, as you say, computers changed your life. You then went on to write a your best-selling book, Armchair Basic: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Programming in BASIC. I learned to program in BASIC in high school, so this fascinates me…I love tech-savvy women! Can you explain a bit about that period of your life: how did you go from education to computers?
Annie: In 1977 my husband, David Fox, and I, opened the world’s first public-access microcomputer center. He’s the techie. But I am a teacher. So the deal was that he would teach me programming and I’d teach the kids and adults who came to our computer center. It became very clear very quickly that my aptitude for programming was limited (though I was great with our beginning classes). What I was really interested in doing was designing games that would entertain kids while teaching them social intelligence skills. And that’s what David and I are still doing with our apps and iBooks. ElectricEggplant.com
Peggy: What do you spend most of your time working on today? I can see from your wonderful website that you’re very busy!
Annie: I’m the kind of person who needs the freedom and creative autonomy to mix things up, every day! So I’m either speaking to students, teachers and parents at schools or presenting workshops and keynotes at conferences. (Right now I’m in Atlantic City at the American Camp Association’s Tri-State Camp Conference.) Or, I’m working on my new book Teaching Kids To Be Good People. Or I’m answering emails from teens and parents. Or I’m tweeting or posting to my student empowerment forum: Cruel’s Not Cool! I also love hiking, photography, baking and gardening.
Peggy: What one piece of advice do you have for parents of today’s teens? (My oldest daughter recently turned 13, so that includes me!)
Annie: Talk less and listen more. Teens have already heard pretty much all of the advice their parents have to give. They’ve heard it a million times. Which isn’t to say they don’t still need us. They do! But you will be in a much better place to give them what they need by LISTENING and finding out where they’re at and where they’re experiencing confusion. Check out my Q&A with teens to give you some ideas of what you can learn when you truly listen to your kids with 100% of your attention: Letters.AnnieFox.com
Peggy: Are you a morning or a night person? How much sleep do you get?
Annie: I’m definitely a morning person. I crash at around 10 pm. I get around 9 hours of sleep a night. That might surprise people, because I am fairly productive. But maybe that’s why I’m so productive…
Peggy: Is there something you do every day that helps you stay focused/grounded?
Annie: I have been a yoga student for 12 years. That practice has taught me so many useful tools to use for dealing with stress, for staying focused on what is right in front of me vs. letting my monkey mind yank me around willie and nillie. LOL! I also really enjoy breathing and I teach re-centering breathing to students and parents in every one of my presentations. Hiking is also one of the best things I know for reminding oneself that whatever’s bugging you, you can deal and in the meantime, look at that beautiful mountain!
Peggy: Do you have a favorite inspirational book or quote?
Annie: Gandhi, “Be the kind of change you want to see in the world.” and, also from Gandhi “There is no road to peace. Peace is the road.”
Peggy: Dark or milk chocolate? Do you have a favorite brand?
Annie: Dark chocolate! Between 72-80% Trader Joe’s Organic Dark Chocolate 72% is a consistent winner!
Peggy: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
Annie: My best friend in the world is David Fox. We’ve been happily married for 37 years and if not for him, I wouldn’t have achieved any of this.
Peggy: That’s very sweet! I hope your husband reads this, though I’m sure he already knows how special he is. Annie, thank you so much for your time!