Stuff in the ‘It’s OK Not to Share’ Category

10 March, 2016

IT’S OK TO GO UP THE SLIDE, Heather Shumaker

When it comes to parenting, sometimes you have to trust your gut.

With her first book, It’s OK Not to Share, blogger and national speaker on parenting, Heather Shumaker, overturned all the conventional rules of parenting with her “renegade rules” for raising competent and compassionate kids. In It’s Ok To Go Up the Slide:  Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids (Tarcher Perigee/March 2016), Shumaker takes on new hot-button issues with new “rules” such as:
-Don’t Force Participation
– Recess Is A Right
– It’s Ok Not To Kiss Grandma
– Ban Homework in Elementary School
– Safety Second

Shumaker also offers broader guidance on how parents can control their own fears and move from an overscheduled life to one of more free play. Parenting can too often be reduced to shuttling kids between enrichment classes, but Shumaker challenges parents to reevaluate how they’re spending their precious family time. This book helps parents help their kids develop important life skills in an age-appropriate way. Most important, parents must model these skills, whether it’s technology use, confronting conflict, or coping emotionally with setbacks. Sometimes being a good parent means breaking all the rules.

“In her thought-provoking new book, Shumaker challenges some of our assumptions as parents and teachers. She shows us clearly and candidly what kids truly need. This is a helpful and inspiring read for anyone concerned with raising the next generation of healthy children.”
—Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls

“Heather Shumaker, the agent-provocateur of the young childhood set, is back in fine form with It’s OK to Go Up the Slide. By refusing to accept received wisdom without questioning it, Shumaker makes the reader think about what children really need when it comes to safety, homework, technology, and interpersonal interactions. She’ll provoke you to think afresh in places where you didn’t even think there was a choice.”
—Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting

“The fact that Heather Shumaker stops to re-examine almost all the conventional wisdom about childhood to figure out which of it is based on anything other than, ‘That’s just how it’s done’ makes her my hero.”
—Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)

“Sensible and provocative. This book will turn notions about kids, families, and schools upside down. From homework to strangers to technology, Shumaker tackles all the big topics facing the preschool to elementary set. Do your family or classroom a favor and grab this book.”
—Amy McCready, author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…

 go up the slide.”
—Anthony DeBenedet, M.D., coauthor of The Art of Roughhousing

“I’m in love with Heather Shumaker’s new book, It’s OK to Go Up the Slide—it’s going to rock boats, challenge thinking, and nudge adults in the right direction when it comes to early learning. The book’s Renegade Rules often swim against the current of conventional thinking, but they are based on solid research, shared with warmth and humor, and come with ample ideas for implementation. This is a must-read for both parents and early learning professionals.”
—Jeff A. Johnson, coauthor of Let Them Play

22 May, 2014

How Sustained Marketing Lead to a Second Book Deal for Debut Author Heather Shumaker

I knew selling my first book, IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids,author portrait Heather Shumaker was going to be hard.  I was an unpublished author with a meager to non-existent platform.  But I believed in my book and so did Joëlle. When she found just-the-right publisher, I poured my soul into book promotion.  My first book had to succeed.  I cared about my first book, but I cared even more passionately about my long-term career as a writer. My first book had to do well enough in book sales so I could write a second book.

At first the news was discouraging. I was told my book “only” sold 173 copies in the first four days of its release.  Not good enough to earn stars in the publishing world. Then ten days after my book’s release, the publicist assigned to my book quit. I was on my own.

I pressed on.  I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I made myself a promise that I would devote a full year towards promoting my book, for the sake of my book and my future books.

Every day for a year, I used all my writing time for promotion.  Speaking was a big help. I scheduled events at bookstores and libraries, ladies’ luncheons, book festivals and college classes. At first I spoke for free, then $100, then moved up to give keynotes at statewide conferences.

I traveled, too. I staged my own book tour (staying with family and friends), and realized that my event became “news” when I traveled from a distant state. One event that drew 10 people in the audience resulted in 200 book sales because the local paper ran a feature story. I held two book launch events, one in my hometown and one in my parents’ hometown.

I did interviews everywhere I could: radio, TV, satellite radio, podcasts and Google Hangout interviews.  I sent free books to giveaways, wrote op-eds in newspapers, printed my own postcards as handouts, started an author newsletter, and dipped into social media. I reached out to people, did endless follow up, and sent thank you notes. I Skyped with book clubs, blogged regularly and wrote guest posts for multiple blogs.

After a year, m179621404y soul was rather sick of book promotion, and I longed to get back to writing.  For a long time my book sale numbers were still mediocre. Then something changed. People started to fall in love with my book and recommend it word of mouth. Sales started to grow.  In the first 6 months, I doubled my sales from the initial (very modest) distribution.A year out from publication, my book was considered “old” in the publishing world. But readers were still discovering it.  It was “new” to them.  More and more, readers and conference organizers were contacting me now.  My year was up. I could relegate book promotion to 5 hours a week instead of 25 and still keep things humming.

Then my publisher called.  “Your numbers look great,” she said. “Do you have another book in mind?” All that promotion work had paid off. She offered me a book contract for a sequel.

Now I still pay attention to promoting book one, but the time I invest is manageable. My main focus is writing again. Book promotion is part of the fabric of being an author. I keep at it.  Every week, every day, I keep doing something to ensure the book’s welfare.

Now I see that writing and sustained marketing go hand in hand.  Every book I write supports my readers and my readers support my future books.

Heather Shumaker is the author of It’s OK Not to Share…and Other Renegade Rules to Raise Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012) with a sequel due out in 2015.






4 September, 2013


Heather Shumaker is versatile author who writes for both children and adults. Her newest book The Griffins of Castle Cary is charming and slightly spooky read for middle grade readers, ages 8-12 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, March 2019). The story features three adventurous siblings, a ginormous, drooly Newfoundland dog, and a bit of a ghost problem.

In the parenting and education realm, Heather has two unconventional “renegade parenting” books that question conventional practices. With It’s OK Not to Share (Tarcher Penguin, 2012) and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide (Tarcher Penguin RandomHouse, 2016), Heather promotes play, conflict mediation skills and no homework for young children. Her books have won awards (Nautilus Silver Award, Books for a Better Life finalist) and been translated into multiple languages.

Heather is also the author of Saving Arcadia (Wayne State Univ. Press, 2017), a narrative nonfiction book focused on the Great Lakes that’s been described as a “page-turning environmental action thriller.” Heather is a nationally known speaker, and loves sharing her joy of writing and unconventional wisdom with audiences everywhere. She lives in northern Michigan with her family.

To learn more, go to, or follow Heather’s blog Starlighting Mama, podcast Renegade Rules, or author Facebook page Heather Shumaker Writer.