Shelburne teacher leaves students a labor of love

On the dedication page of her book, Anne Bingham writes: “’Stars in the Window’ is dedicated to my first through third grade students at the Shelburne Village School from 1972-1993 in the Multi-Age program, and celebrates their discovery of the joys and adventures in reading.”

by Susan Davis

Anne Alexander Bingham spent 21 years of her professional life as a teacher at the Shelburne Vermont Village School. She was part of a four-person Multi-Age team that instructed children in kindergarten through third grade and about which she wrote in the book “Exploring the Multi-Age Classroom” that was published in 1995. With a Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts, Anne shared her love of books with her students, encouraging them to “read, read, read” any time that they could. Anne, a long-time resident of South Hero, who passed away in March of this year after losing a bravely fought battle with cancer, left behind a final gift–a manuscript of an historical novel that she wrote with middle grade children in mind.

“Anne started working on the book around 1997,” said Richard Bingham, Anne’s husband. “She drew parts of the story from her personal history along with a great deal of background research to ensure its accuracy,” he added.

After Anne’s death, Richard began a true labor of love–to publish her book. “I knew nothing about publishing a book; it became a real learning experience for me,” he said. Soon type fonts and graphics became a topic of investigation. Then there was the book’s cover …what should it look like?

“The publisher came up with an initial design for the cover but it was dark and dreary. I found an early photo of Anne as a young girl sitting in a chair reading. It was perfect,” he said. With some additional flourishes, the cover was completed and the manuscript was ready to go.

“Stars in the Window” is set in 1943, a time when the United States was at war with Japan. Jessie, the young girl in the book, has her life immeasurably changed when her mother hires Mrs. Sakamoto to help out in the family flower shop while her father, an officer in the Navy, is away at sea. Mrs. Sakamoto had been released from Amache, a Japanese internment camp and Jessie struggles to understand the difference between an enemy and her new Japanese-American friend.

“Anne had similar experiences in her youth,” said Richard. “Her family, who lived in Colorado during WWII, had a young Japanese-American student living with them at the time of Pearl Harbor.”

As the story continues, the young readers will learn about life in the U.S. during World War II with its rationing, blackouts, and Victory Gardens. The story also translates into today’s issues of prejudice, cultural diversity, and the pre-adolescent culture that involves snubbing and cliques.

“Stars in the Window” is available to purchase online through www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

A copy of the book will also be available at the Pierson Library in Shelburne.

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