About the founder: Jennifer Medina, Ed.D.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents’ backyard was filled with fruit trees. I have warm memories of helping my grandfather nurture the trees and then getting to pick the round, juicy grapefruits and the bright, beautiful lemons. Among the branches of one of the lemon trees, grandpa built a simple treehouse. I would spend hours in that treehouse, daydreaming and inventing stories, and I loved to sit beneath the tree with my grandmother, listening to her stories.

Initially raised on a farm, my grandfather was a lifelong educator, he believed every child should have the opportunity to grow plants, to see what becomes of a seed, and the result of nurturing a plant that can ultimately nurtures us.

These cherished memories with my grandparents gave root to In the Lemon Tree. Inspired by grandma’s love for storytelling and grandpa’s commitment to nurturing both plants and people, I want to help others sow the seeds of creativity within their own families and classrooms. As my little treehouse in the lemon tree inspired me to think about, write and listen to stories, I founded In the Lemon Tree to carry on the tradition of cultivating creativity and literacy among children, students and families.

A lifelong lover of children’s literature and writing, I have built my career around literacy and language learning. I have been an educator in several different capacities, teaching preschoolers to graduate students, leading teacher trainings, staff development, parent education and heading up district English Language Learner Programs. Working primarily with second language learners, I have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish, a master’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in ESL and bilingual education, and a doctoral degree in international and multicultural education with an emphasis in children’s literature. I had the extraordinary opportunity to complete my doctorate under the direction of children’s author, Alma Flor Ada and write my dissertation on Children’s literature, interviewing authors Eve Bunting, Patricia Polacco, Francisco X. Alarcon, and Nikki Giovanni.

Promoting reading, writing and the creativity that can blossom as a result of literacy has not just been a job for me; it is my life’s passion. An entire wall in my garage is covered from floor to ceiling with brilliant children’s books. My two delightful children are the happy products of a bicultural home, and my husband, who was raised in Brazil, shares his family’s cultural traditions. I have spent many summer vacations and spring breaks, traveling extensively to take in the wonders of the world and to give myself a context for my own understanding of language and communication.

But wherever my travels take me, to whatever faraway lands my reading transports me, I always come back to those happy, carefree days I used to spend at my grandparents’ house, in the lemon tree.