What are your 5 favorite kids’ books?
My favorite books when I was a child were: Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne; Many Moons by James Thurber; The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward; A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Margaret Wise Brown's Wonderful Story Book, a Big Golden Book. I still have all of these, and I still love to read them.
How does I SPY help boost kids’ vocabulary?
The I SPY rhyming riddles feature many interesting words such as "tine," which you may not know, but once someone shows you the tines of a fork, you have learned a new vocabulary word. The I SPY words name concrete objects – so if you don't know the meaning, you can easily learn it. The I SPY words may be be uniquely combined, such as "a bottle-cap knight." You don't know what that is, but then you see it: a toy knight whose shield is a bottle cap. The rhymes are very good for children because hearing rhymes helps young children pay attention to the end sounds of words, a skill that is a precursor to reading.
How important is reading in your life?
Very important. I have loved to read both for information and for pleasure all my life.
How did your early education lead to your success in life?
I grew up before TV! We didn't get TV until I was in 5th grade. So if you were not playing with friends or making something, you read books. We didn't have a bookstore. We went to the library. I can still picture the big children's room in our town's library. We went there every week as a family and got books to bring home. Books were where it was at. No TV, computers, Game Boy, Nintendo, IPads. I don't tell that to kids anymore when I visit schools because once a boy raised his hand and asked me if we had electricity when I was little. HA!
Of all the different I SPY books, which is your favorite? Why?
I have three favorites: the first book I SPY: A Book of Picture Riddles because it was the first one, a miracle. We knew young kids would like it but we didn't know all ages would like it! My second favorite is I SPY Spooky Night because it was the hardest to make and yet it turned out so well. The third favorite is I SPY School Days because it's the most intellectual. I love the sorting and classification game. I love Levers, Ramps, and Pulleys, too. Those two pictures make kids think. Just because kids may not yet be able to read doesn't mean they can't think. They can.
What are you currently reading?
The Information by Jim Gleick. I don't usually read non-fiction, but it just came out and got a great review. So I downloaded it and loved the first chapter. Yes, downloaded. I read everything on my IPhone these days. The last novel I read was The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam. Great, but you have to read the precursor Old Filth first. "Filth" stands for "Failed in London, Tried Hong Kong." Two wonderful British novels. The last children's book I read and totally loved was Step-Stomp Stride by talented duo Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. Brian illustrated my book Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King.