FLINT TWP. — “If you could do anything in the world with kids what would it be?”
Fourth-grade teacher Ben Anderson was caught off guard by the question in 1999 from Mary Ann Raske, former principal at Carman Park Elementary, but he had an answer ready.
He would take them fishing.
“It relates so much to what we are doing in science, reading, and math at that age,” said Anderson, who now teaches at Rankin Elementary which merged with Carman Park several years ago.
With Raske’s encouragement and a lot of volunteer support, the annual fishing field trip to the Linden Mill Pond was born and has given birth to much more.
Most recently, it served as a basis for “Liam’s Fishing Lesson With Grandpa: Life Lessons of Liam and Lila,” a book Anderson wrote with his wife Jamie and self-published this spring.
Liam and Lila are the couple’s children, ages eight months and 3 years, respectively, who were the inspiration for the book.
The Andersons met in 2001 at Carman Park, where Jamie was a tutor in a different fourth-grade classroom and also participated in field trips. In fact, Anderson proposed to Jamie at the Linden Mill Pond separately from the field trip. Jamie now teachers K-5 art in Byron.
Ben grew up in Swartz Creek and Jamie in Durand where the couple now live.
Their book is about a fictional boy who goes fishing with his grandfather, hoping to catch “a whopper.” He ends up learning about balancing the ecosystem. The book includes a recipe that the fictional Liam used to prepare his catch of the day, Anderson said.
The book also provides an interactive ecosystem activity that kids can do with their parents over the summer. Anderson also has made it available on Facebook and in a clip on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ3ASpF4 1P8&noredirect=1
The Andersons started work on the book about two years ago and after fishing around for a publisher decided for tax purposes to publish it themselves through CreateSpace, a company owned by Amazon.
About the same time, the book and the field trip were featured on Michigan Out of Doors Television. A clip of that outing can be viewed (beginning at the 18- minute mark) on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7tCiF3m 1Dg&feature=youtu.be&t=18m1s
Anderson also used the book this year in his classroom as pre-field trip reading to emphasize safety. It is sold on Amazon and via their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/andersonbooks1.
They had a book signing at Rankin at the end of the school year and have two upcoming ones scheduled from 4-6 p.m. Aug. 13 at Holiday Meadows Golf Course of Durand, and from 4-8 p.m. Aug. 15 at Biggby Coffee in the Medawar Plaza on Linden Road in Flint Township.
The fishing book is the first in a series planned by the couple that will be related to elementary school concepts.