HomeBlocksFront-GridBurbank Teacher Brings Adventure to Kids Book

Burbank Teacher Brings Adventure to Kids Book

Bret Harte Elementary’s own Elizabeth Godley wants to bring back make-believe.

The adventurous elementary school math teacher has graced the stage as a classical actress, wooed audiences on the big screen and energized her students in the classroom. More recently, Godley is making herself a household name in the world of children’s books.

The inspiration for her second storybook, “Rock, Scissors, Paperbag,” harkens back to her childhood in rural Louisiana, where she and her brother would go on daily adventures after school.

“My brother and I would run off and go on make-believe adventures every day. We had so much fun,” she said. “We got into some innocent mischief. It was always an adventure, and I’ve always wanted kids to have the same magical experience I did growing up,” she told the Leader.

That’s why she wrote “Rock, Scissors, Paperbag”: To show kids how to have adventures again. In her experience as a teacher, Godley said, the backyard adventures have been replaced, in many cases, by screentime.

“Technology is amazing, but it can’t beat the smell of a library book or the weight of a water balloon in your hand,” she said. “I want to add joy to children’s lives in a way that makes them feel connected and not alone.”

The illustrated chapter book is the story of three children who live in a magical world, but after an ugly encounter with the school bully, the children decide to go on a magical adventure in search of a local legend.

The characters are nuanced, Godley said, and have qualities children can identify with. “Scissors is an excellent athlete, but a bit of a perfectionist. Rock is a talented musician, but has low self-esteem, and Paperbag is really smart but scares easily,” wrote Rachel M. Anderson, Godley’s publicist.

Godley draws from her experience as a Burbank-based third, fourth and fifth grade math teacher at Bret Harte Elementary School.

“My kids inspire me every single day. They’re funny and they’re honest,” she told the Leader. “I love talking to kids. I enjoy their imaginations, their sense of play. It’s just that frank quality in kids that I admire and its why I’ve always wanted to write kids’ books.”

“Rock, Scissors, Paperbag” is Godley’s second children’s book, following a picture book she wrote alongside illustrator Paige M. Leyh titled “Ribbon’s Traveling Castle.” Her new book has playful illustrations by Akanksha Tyagi.

The print version of the book launched last weekend, and she held a reading at The Dinosaur Farm, a toy store in South Pasadena.

“The book had been online to buy before this past weekend, but it didn’t feel real yet,” she said. “When I read it to children, that that was the moment.”

Godley didn’t set out to become a teacher, but after a 15-year career in TV and film, she decided to move on to her other passions. Knowing that she has always enjoyed working with children and had previous experience teaching English, a friend referred her to Bret Harte, where she is loving her newfound purpose there, she said.

Godley is a graduate of Louisiana State University where she majored in theater. Before transitioning to a career as an elementary school teacher, she appeared in 13 Shakespeare theater productions, and had roles in several commercials, TV shows and films.

The story was inspired by a brainstorming exercise Godley participated in while collaborating with fellow members of a clown performance group.

“I want to encourage kids to make friends, go on make-believe adventures, get dirty, stand up to the bully, accidentally scrape their knees, and make some innocent mischief. In. Real. Life,” said Godley.

The book is already gaining popularity and recognition among readers and was the winner of the 2023 International Firebird Book Award.

“Rock, Scissors, Paperbag” is available on Amazon.

Elizabeth Godley says that the inspiration behind her new children’s book comes from backyard adventures with her brother in the woods of Louisiana.

First published in the November 25 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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