P&C: What did you learn while writing your books?
Willems: That its real meaning isn’t unlocked until it gets into the hands of a kid. It’s both wonderful and terrifying to witness.
P&C: How do you get past writer’s block?
Willems: The inability to write merely means the ideas growing in your mind are too fragile to be transplanted onto the page, which is easily solved by being patient. The only way to get “blocked” is by trying to write too much too fast.
P&C: If you could be any book character, who would you be?
Willems: A good book puts characters through the ringer, makes them confront their worst demons, then places them in a position beyond hope. I’ll pass!
P&C: What should parents keep in mind when reading to kids?
Willems: I love that children don’t get embarrassed yet, unlike the millions of teens who die from it every day. The good news is that embarrassment is a learned behavior, so it can also be unlearned. Have some fun!
Elizabeth Callahan is the assistant editor for Parent & Child.
More From Our 100 Greatest Books' Featured Author Series:
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- Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) on advice to kids who want to write
- Sandra Boynton (Moo, Baa, La La La!) on the coolest part about being an author
- The Madeleine L'Engle you never knew