Dr. Dawn Menge has won seventy International awards as the published author of the Queen Vernita’s Educational Series and Dragon’s Breath, including the Special Recognition Champion Award from Conquering Disabilities with Film, Best Written Word from Miracle Makers Film, Hollywood Dreams Film, and International Author Boss Award from Power Conversations Magazine. Her published works also include THE SIX FEDERAL INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLAN GOALS AND THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THEIR IMPLEMENTATION IN PREPARING FOR TRANSITION.
Dr. Dawn Menge has a Ph.D. in Education. She specializes in Curriculum and Instruction. She also holds a Master’s and a Clear Credential in Moderate/Severe Disabilities and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development. Dr. Dawn Menge has been teaching students with severe cognitive delays for over twenty years, and mentors/lectures graduate students.
Dr. Dawn Menge is the mother of three, and the grandmother of six beautiful grandchildren.
When did you realize you had a passion for writing and sharing stories?
My writing journey began when I was earning my teaching credential. I had an assignment in my math class to create a book and board game. The first book was written around my students, and we used it to perform skits throughout our area to the lower elementary classes to educate the general education population about our students with disabilities.
I decided to publish Queen Vernita’s Visitors and named it after my grandmother who was an astute businesswoman and the matriarch of our family. She and her father went door to door to gain memberships to open the United Ministers Federal Credit Union. I included all the children in our family as I thought they wouldn’t mind. I immediately won first place in the EVVY awards out of Colorado and began doing interviews. I was asked what I would be doing next. As I love to travel, we decided that the Queen would travel around her Kingdom and learn about her subjects and the areas in which they live.
Dragon’s Breath is a story of King Teddy Bear and Queen Giggles who live in the neighboring kingdom. The king introduces his Queen to a dragon who becomes very jealous and causes great harm to his kingdom while telling everyone she is helping them. It is a lesson on not hurting others when you are feeling angry or jealous and when to create boundaries if the person is not remorseful.
What inspired your journey into writing and publishing books?
My life experiences are the inspiration for my writing and publishing of my children’s literature. I have also expanded into judging children’s literature for Story Monster Magazine and Hindi Libraries, judging romance books for IndTale Magazine, writing book reviews for Story Monster Magazine, and being on the board of Hindi Libraries.
You are now an award-winning author of several books, can you tell us about Queen Vernita’s Educational Book series?
The Queen now has fourteen adventures including two to Hawaii, Alaska, New Orleans, Baja Mexico, a Paddleboat trip, Hacienda Linda, Wyoming, Oceaneers Coastline, camping at the beach, a Magical Christmas Train ride, Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, and Queen Vernita’s castle. Each adventure is based on a real trip that I have taken, as I have a rule that I have to do the research myself. I can’t ask others to swim with sharks, manta rays, turtles, or dolphins. Go into the bayou and hold a baby alligator, octopus, or sea horse. Hike to the bottom of a lava tube and swim or learn to dance a Mexican dance or learn Spanish if I haven’t done these things myself. The Queen has twelve friends, one for each month of the year, each month is a new subject and she learns seven facts per subject. The series is PreK-6th grade and the higher grade levels become chapters rather than months.
The Queen will soon be traveling to Death Valley, the East Coast, and Italy.
You have branched out into the film industry with several projects, can you share a little about that experience?
I began entering Film awards when I saw an ad for Conquering Disabilities with Film on Facebook. I enquired if I could enter my Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer book as it has Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy in it. My series won the Special Recognition Champion Award from Conquering Disabilities through film. Dragon’s Breath won the Best Book award at Miracle Makers Film Festival and my book trailers were played on the big screen at the film festival in Las Vegas last summer. We had a wonderful week watching amazing films, going to two awards ceremonies, and watching the stunt people being honored for their accomplishments in major films.
I have had Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean the Astronomer, Queen Vernita Sleeps by the Sandy Fireside, and currently working on Queen Vernita Conquers the volcanic Islands. The Screenplays have now won awards in New York, Florida, and California.
Once you win in a film festival others will contact you and offer discounts to enter theirs. One morning I heard my Queen Vernita Conquers the Volcanic Islands video trailer being named a winner in the Vesuvius film awards all in Italian.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight for me is the children around the world that are enjoying my friends and family’s adventures. When I first began writing I attended the Tucson book festival and a woman was going to Ghana, Africa to help build a library. She bought a few books, and I donated some and asked her to send me pictures not expecting them. She sent them and it was such an amazing feeling having a child on the other side of the world reading about Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer. Sir HeathyBean is my little brother and an Astronomer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Later, my classroom speech therapist whose family members teach in Africa took my books to share. They were kind enough to send me pictures and videos of schoolchildren reading my books in their classrooms. One little girl was reading Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains (Alaska) on her birthday to her classmates.
During the Pandemic, I did a virtual book reading for a second-grade class in Paraguay.
They were so cute and excited and one little boy told me he was going to come to America so I could read him a book in person. I would love to do that.
Because of their repetitive format, they are great resources for ESL learners. I have a teacher friend who teaches refugees from Somolia and Africa work skills and Academic skills in Washington. He uses my books extensively in his lessons.
“My pleasure, Dawn. Your books are perfect for what I do with my learners. As of today, another adult ESL person will be reading your Visitor’s book to her grandchildren for the first time. Grandmother needs to learn how to read in English. She has been here for about 10 years. My friend (her daughter) gave your book to her mother and told her to look at the pictures in the book and read the words that are associated with the picture. We hope that this approach to reading is successful. That is the method that I have been using when I teach learners to read via your books. “
“Hello, Dawn. The student that I started teaching English to about 7 years ago spoke with me today. He now has a daughter who is turning 5 years young and he is reading everything that he can get his hands on now. He just loves to read!! Your books started a love of reading for this young man. This is the immigrant African native man who was born under a tree on the savannah in central Africa. He had never written anything in his life before I met him. No letters or numbers. He did not know the alphabet or how to count anything. Now he is able to read the newspaper with ease and he is able to manage his numbers well enough to budget his finances in his home. For mathematics, we started by counting the guests eating at the Holiday dinner in your Visitor’s book. My student found that particular illustration was one that he could relate to. Having a meal with a large family. I gave him a copy of Queen Vernita’s Volcanic Islands to give to his daughter for her birthday and he really lit up! He was so happy to receive your fine book. You have had an amazing impact on this young man’s life, and now the life of his child. His little girl will be entering school next year being able to read fairly well thanks to you. She loves to read and teach he father new words! They learn to read together. Thank you for all that you continue to do with your books, Dawn. You rock!!
To know that my books are making a generational impact on families will always be the highlight of being an author and educator.
What message do you hope people take away from your work?
I hope that the legacy of my family, friends, students, and life experiences as written in the Queen Vernita educational series and Dragon Breath brings a fascinating literary experience to children and adults. Because of the variety of the reading levels from PreK-6th grade, children can grow up reading the series and develop a lifelong love for reading and adventure.
What does pretty woman hustle mean to you?
Pretty woman hustle means that our inner beauty shines a bright light into the world to help guide others to live their own beautiful lives.