Mona Voelkel

About Me

Voelkel Family

I am an author and reading specialist in private practice, working with students, teachers and community members, while writing books for children.

When I am not reading, writing or thinking about words, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, running, and paddle-boarding in the saltwater ponds of Rhode island.

How I Got Here...

Igrew up in the Bronx and have many happy memories of playing jumping rope, hopscotching, and roller skating with friends. My parents, Kevin and Carmel Woods, emigrated from Ireland and met at a Sunday afternoon dance in the Yorkville Casino in Manhattan where my father, who hailed from a musical family, was the bandleader and lead singer.

Three of my favorite places growing up were the New York Botanical Gardens, the Fordham Branch of the New York Public Library, and a used bookstore on 196th Street where you could buy Nancy Drew mysteries, pulling them out of a big barrel, for a nickel. I am so grateful for the wonderful teachers of Our Lady of Refuge, St. Brendan’s and Cardinal Spellman High School for nurturing my love of reading and writing. I am especially grateful to my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Roger Rooney, who had us writing plays, reading Shakespeare, entering writing contests, and creating a school newspaper. He also brought us bowling on Friday afternoons! 

During college, I worked in a German counter restaurant named Zum Zum’s that was near Grand Central in NYC. I learned so much from my co-workers, especially about how very difficult life can be. The stories that my coworkers shared about their lives have never left me, nor the memories of their generosity and good humor. I also appreciated the many “regulars” who stopped by and shared their stories as they drank a cup of coffee.

After graduating from Fordham University, I taught 2nd and 3rd grade at P.S. 46, where I had attended kindergarten. Seeing the struggles of some students as they learned to read inspired my lifelong passion to help students overcome reading difficulties and pass along my love of books. I received a Master’s in Education (Reading) and later, became a National Board Certified Teacher, continuing to stay current in the field of literacy education.

I met my incredible husband, Ray, and we raised our sons in Pleasantville, NY where we were busy with volunteering for school, sports, and community activities. As a Reading Specialist, I had the privilege to work 19 years at the Kensico School, receiving the PTA Jenkins Award for distinguished service. I have fond memories of monthly writing contests/celebrations, Family Reading Nights, and other community events that highlighted the connections between home and school. I am indebted to all the Valhalla students and their families, my wonderfully supportive principals, Mr. Sal J. Miele and Mr. Matthew Curran, and my dedicated and generous colleagues.

Now, I am in private practice, working with students, teachers and community members, while writing books for children. My first book, Stanley and the Wild Words, is a spelling-themed fantasy, supplemented by my classroom Word Quests. My poem, “Tree, Teach Me,” was recently published in The Dirigible Balloon, an online children’s poetry anthology. I am a member of SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, Story Club with George Saunders, and a rigorous critique group.

Young Mona

“Young Mona” illlustration by Nancy Kincade from the book Stanley and the Wild Words.