BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Have you ever noticed the impact reading books to toddlers and young children has on their vocabulary and early literacy? Children between one and three years old can begin to identify their favorite books and finish sentences in books they know well, according to kidshealth.org and many other studies. By three years, most kids are able to explore books independently and recite stories they are familiar with.

While many children’s books cover the fiction category, a local author is making sure that kids get a fun and healthy dose of high interest, non-fiction as well. Rachel Anne Cantor, a 2014 Governor Livingston graduate and current Emerson College student, now working for Bearport Publishing, has already published five children’s books.

Cantor is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She first became interested in writing children’s books during her internship at Bearport Publishing her freshman year of college. Her internship eventually transitioned into a job offer as a freelance writer where she was able to commit to writing a number of books, some of which are still to come.

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The first book, Weird but Cute, Beluga Whale, introduces the life of Beluga whales to young readers. Kids can learn everything from where they live, to what they eat, to why they look the way they do.

Another project Cantor has been working on is the Countries We Come From series. Each book in the series covers the culture and lives of the people that live in a certain country. So far Cantor has published books about Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Pakistan in this collection while books teaching kids about Australia, Austria, Egypt, and Nigeria are in the works.

The books in the Countries We Come From series help expose a young audience to a variety of cultures that they may not encounter otherwise. They have the opportunity to absorb information about the nature, food, music, and traditions that each of the countries have to offer. Cantor hopes that kids gain an understanding of what other countries are like and find a sense of interest and curiosity for the cultures of foreign areas of the world.

While she loves writing books for kids, Cantor plans to expand her writing to include fiction novels for high school students and adults. She also intends to pursue a two year masters program to receive her MFA in creative writing to help set her on the right track as a full time novelist.

To purchase any of Rachel Anne Cantor’s books you can check them out on Amazon.com or if you are a local resident, the Berkeley Heights Public Library carries a few of her books as well.  Her next four books will be coming out January 1, 2018.