Skaggs, (Barbara) Gayle 1952–

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SKAGGS, (Barbara) Gayle 1952–

PERSONAL: Born July 29, 1952, in Warrensburg, MO; daughter of James C. (an auto mechanic) and Dorothy N. (an elementary teacher; maiden name, Norman) Saunders; married Robert L. Skaggs (a graphic artist), June 1, 1974; children: Elizabeth Anne Skaggs Stabler, Sarah Christine Skaggs Taylor. Education: Central Missouri State University, B.S.E. Religion: Southern Baptist. Hobbies and other interests: Christian missionary activities (including work in Mexico), a television ministry.

ADDRESSES: Home—1820 West McCarty, Jefferson City, MO 65109. Office—Cole County R-5 Schools, P.O. Box 78, Eugene, MO 65032.

CAREER: Art teacher at schools in Chilhowee, MO, 1974–75; librarian at schools in Ridgeway, MO, 1977–78; elementary art teacher in Lathrop, MO, 1978–80, and Hannibal, MO, 1981–82; high school librarian in Jefferson City, MO, 1985–94; elementary librarian in Bourbon, MO, 1995–96, and Conway, MO, 1996–98; high school librarian in Pleasant Hope, MO, 1998–99; Cole County R-5 Schools, Eugene, MO, elementary librarian, 1999–. Workshop presenter.

MEMBER: Missouri State Teachers Association.


(And illustrator) Bulletin Boards and Displays, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1993.

(And illustrator) Off the Wall!, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1995.

(And illustrator) On Display: Twenty-five Themes to Promote Reading, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1999.

Reading Is First: Great Ideas for Teachers and Librarians, illustrated by husband Robert L. Skaggs, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2003.

WORK IN PROGRESS: "A book for teachers and librarians that presents a step-by-step approach to promoting reading for a school year based on a U.S.A. theme; First Century, a hands-on vacation bible School."

SIDELIGHTS: Gayle Skaggs told CA: "I am a wife and mother before anything else. My husband Bob and I have been married since 1974 and are blessed to have two wonderful daughters and two beautiful granddaughters. I love being a grandmother!

"Next to my family, I am very much involved in my church. I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, and it is a privilege to share my faith with others. I try to go on mission trips each year where I work in vacation bible schools, construction projects, et cetera, to tell others about the Lord. This year I painted a large painting of Christ that was hung on the wall of one of the men's cell blocks at the Santa Adelida Prison in Matamoros, Mexico. Our team also worked with the inmates to paint Bible verses and symbols on the walls surrounding their baseball field. It was an awesome experience!

"My current project is to begin a library in a school in the 'Squatter's camp' in Matamoros, Mexico. 700 children attend this school and they have no books to read. Being able to read is powerful and it could open up a better life for these children.

"My mother is a retired elementary teacher. As a teenager, I helped her create items to decorate her classroom. She encouraged me to be creative and express myself artistically. We had very little money for supplies, so I had to learn to make things with found materials or to look at everyday items in a new way. Even though I am not a great artist, I have found that you don't have to be a fantastic artist to create effective displays. My motivation is to encourage others to create eye-catching, colorful displays to excite children about reading. My books are designed to simplify the process for the busy educator.

"It is exciting to be able to combine my art abilities and the look of the library. I look at the library as if it were a store and the children are my customers. Some customers need a little more persuasion to buy than others, so that is my challenge.

"When I first became a librarian at a large high school, one of my responsibilities was to promote the library and reading in displays and bulletin boards. I looked for ideas in the books we had in the library, and I was not impressed. Everything looked old, dated, and tired. I decided to create my own bulletin board book to help other librarians and teachers to create great displays at little or no cost. I drew all the pictures for the books myself so that the reader could see how simple the process could be. One of my goals was to get the reader to start thinking more three-dimensionally instead of just using the traditional, flat display. I really used a lot of carpet tubes for many of the suggested ideas!

"After the first book was published, I was asked to conduct workshops for our school district, and eventually I led several workshops for the Missouri Association of School Librarians at their annual meeting. The next two books were done in a similar style.

"Reading Is First: Great Ideas for Teachers and Librarians was written to address the current elementary reading programs, such as 'Accelerated Reader' and 'Reading Counts.' Many librarians and teachers have the responsibility of coming up with a theme each year to promote the program. The book contains themes complete with promotion ideas to tie reading to every other part of the school. This book is special to me because my husband created all the illustrations.

"When I make up my mind to write a book, and that is a big commitment of time and energy, I like to do that by using all of my free time after school and on weekends to accomplish the task. Everything I want to include just seems to flow out quickly! Sometimes I wonder if any of my ideas will be useful and then I think about my own school and how well they have worked there. Our school can't be all that different from other elementary schools. It is such a treat to hear one of my students say 'WOW' when they enter my library or participate in a reading promotion.

"Reading is First is special because I worked with my husband to complete it. It was a joy to work with him…. This book has many great ideas for the librarian or teacher who has to promote a reading program."



Booklist, October 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Off the Wall!, p. 330; July, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of On Display: Twenty-five Themes to Promote Reading, p. 1960.

Reference and User Services Quarterly, fall, 1999, Michael A. Perry, review of On Display, p. 110.

School Library Journal, November, 2003, Edith Ching, review of Reading Is First: Great Ideas for Teachers and Librarians, p. 175.