a woman laughing in an elementary school classroom in Florida.
Bluewater Elementary School 2nd grade teacher Stephanie Lafitte laughs as she shows her original book she created in 5th grade - and the finished, published product she recently released.

Bluewater Elementary Teacher Publishes Book She Wrote in Fifth Grade!

Stephanie Lafitte, a second-grade teacher turned published author, shares her journey of rediscovering and publishing her childhood book "My Prize Puppy," inspiring students and readers with the power of imagination and storytelling.

It took a few decades from when she wrote it in the fifth grade, but Stephanie Lafitte became a published author. 

Stephanie, a second-grade teacher at Bluewater Elementary, wrote the book that became “My Prize Puppy” and put the hand-stapled, tape-laminated book with hand-drawn art into a box. 

The book follows a character whom Lafitte thinks she modeled after herself, who desperately wants a dog. Only problem? She can’t afford the five dollars to buy one (hey, inflation). So instead of being bummed out about the situation, the main character decides to buy a leash and create an imaginary dog. Before she knows it, the imaginary pup is in a dog show! 

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Two years ago – she, her father, and her sister found the book again, along with some other short stories she wrote while cleaning out the family home after they found out her father had Parkinson’s Disease. “I had all these books that I wrote. Stories. And I was like, ‘Yeah, just throw them away.’ Then my dad and sister [said‘Oh my gosh, this is the cutest story.’ I said, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but my dad [said] ‘promise me you won’t throw this away.”

Lafitte took the book home. 

The following summer, her father passed away after his battle with Parkinson’s – and she dug the book back up. She decided she would reach out to a couple of publishers about the book – and several wrote back that they wanted to move forward with the project. By August, she had a deal with Dorrance Publishing Company out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Since the first copy of the book showed up – other teachers have asked her to read it to their classrooms, plus parents and students have visited her classroom to ask for the author’s signature. 

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She was nervous about whether or not people would like the book – but she says everyone who read it loved it. “It makes me happy because it reaches out to my students,” Lafitte said, “Kids need more make-believe. They need to use their imagination more – because of screen time – it’s not how it used to be, where they would have to write a lot of stories and narratives.”

Easter Eggs

Lafitte didn’t make many changes to the original book she wrote in elementary school, but she did add some Easter eggs, a hidden message or feature, to her book for the kids in her class. 

For most of her career – she taught first grade. But a couple of years ago, she moved to teaching second grade. That meant she taught seven children two years in a row. All of those kids are in her book, illustrated on the pages by Bill Ivins.

One of the children in the book, third grader Nathan Tallman said, “Mrs. Lafitte is famous. She is a published author – she wrote a book and I’m in it!”

Tallman’s father, Jonathan added that Lafitte “Made Nathan’s year for sure. He is so excited about it.” To him, Lafitte gesture shows the kind-natured educator’s many strengths. “Mrs. Lafitte is an incredible educator and she genuinely cares so much about all of her students. We actually just got her book in the mail and it’s a really fun, feel-good story. I highly recommend it.’

Many kids have purchased the book and can point themselves out to teachers, parents, and friends. 

The Next Story

With the success of the first book – and the enjoyment she and everyone in her circle have received from it – Lafitte says that she is ready to write a second book – and already has ideas for what she wants to do – this time about a real dog, her Australian Shepherd, Golden Retriever mix named Ghost. The Lafitte family welcomed him in after Hurricane Michael required The Alaqua Shelter to move animals out of their facility in 2018. Im doing sketches,” she added, “it’s hard to concentrate on it during the school year, because I’m so focused on [her students].”

More Information on the Book

As of the publication of this story, the book is not available on Amazonbut it is available on the Dorrance Publishing Website. 

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