Author Spotlight: Mrs Rivka Fishman


Author Spotlight: Mrs Rivka Fishman

Meet Rivka Fishman, an educator with over 17 years of experience and the creative mind behind the children’s books “Sara the Bucket Filler” and “Benny the Bucket Filler.” Her journey as an author intertwines with her professional path in education, from her early days in Pittsburgh to her current role at Torah Day School of Houston. Rivka’s work is a reflection of her deep understanding of psychology and her dedication to making a positive impact in the lives of young learners.

In our author spotlight, we uncover the inspirations and challenges behind Rivka’s writing. Her books are not just stories; they are tools for teaching kindness and resilience. Through her unique approach, Rivka aims to equip children with the skills to combat bullying. Join us as we delve into the experiences and insights that have shaped Rivka Fishman’s impactful career as both an author and an educator.

Inspiration and Writing Process

What inspired you to write your book?

As a fourth-grade teacher, I became interested in finding ways to make sure my students always treated each other nicely. After a while, I realized that until Mashiach comes, most people simply won’t be nice all of the time. This led me to researching and then giving workshops about bullyproofing. When my daughter reached kindergarten, a new kid joined her class who was mean to her all the time. None of the bullyproofing strategies I had successfully implemented with older children worked for her at that age. She was familiar with the concept of “bucketfilling” from her teacher, and I used that concept to teach her how to stay happy even if the other child is being mean. We wove those lessons into a bedtime story each night. One night, she said, “Mommy, you should write this down as a book and publish it so that other kids can learn this too!” That’s how Sara the Bucket Filler was born. Benny the Bucket Filler overlaps with the Sara book. In the Benny book, children learn how to stay happy even if they get excluded.

Challenges and Enjoyment in Writing

What are some of the things you enjoyed most about writing your book?

Once I wrote the first version of Sara the Bucket Filler, I shared it with a friend who is an editor. She made some fabulous edits. I then sent it to a few therapists and teachers for their feedback. When it was accepted for publication by Mosaica Press, Rabbi Kornbluth and then Mrs. Gross made more edits. I absolutely loved the editing process. I use it as a mashal to teach my students how important it is to have a mentor in their lives. Just like an editor takes something good and can point out or bring out the potential for it to be even better, a mentor can help us to see how we can become the best versions of ourselves.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

Benny the Bucket Filler was written in my head for a long time before I wrote it down. With the success of Sara the Bucket Filler, I was slightly intimidated about trying to put out another book that would be as well-received. I wanted it to be able to stand alone, but also feel familiar and overlap with the Sara book.

Personal Reflections and Experiences

What is the most inspiring feedback you’ve ever received? Did that impact what you did next?

A bookstore owner emailed me to let me know that her grandchildren love my book, but more than that — it has helped her adult children with their marriages. With that feedback, I adjusted my bullyprofing webinars to be a learning experience for adults to practice before helping their children.

Lifestyle and Hobbies

What do you do to relax, recharge, or simply have fun? How do you make time for that, and how often?

Writing and bullyproofing are my hobbies. My day job is teaching and being the programming director in a day school. Spending time with my children and grandchildren is also a great way to recharge.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

I just finished Questioning the Answers by Kayla Haber-Goldstein, and I loved it! I brought many of the concepts into my classroom. I’ve also been reading Reclaiming Dignity, by Bracha Poliakoff and Rabbi Anthony Manning, in chunks and I really enjoy the various outlooks on the same mitzvah.

Writing Community and Influence

What is your favorite sefer?

Navi and Tanya. Teaching Navi and Chassidus is so much fun! They are ancient texts with real-world lessons.

Current and Future Projects

What are you working on next?

I just finished a bucketfilling journal to help kids learn to be resilient and kind. It is a basic black-and-white journal that will be available from Amazon print-on-demand as soon as the illustrations are finished. I’ve gotten great feedback about how powerful it is in such a simple way.

If you were granted an extra three hours per day, or a spare million dollars, what would you do with them?

I would take the million dollars and donate it toward Jewish education for children. There are so many worthy causes in the Jewish world, now more than ever, but our children are our future, and they need the best educators and resources to be able to be the future leaders that our world needs.

Writing Practices and Routines

Do you write alone or in a public space?

The initial drafts of all three books were written in the notes section of my phone. When the words were ready to come out, I just put them down before I forgot them. Sara was written on a plane, Benny was written while I was sick in bed, and the journal was written while I watched my son play Little League baseball. Of course, I then sat at a computer to edit them further and then printed them and read them to several children to see how they sounded before sending for editing or publishing.

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