Earlier this month I caught up with Raven and asked her to come by the studio to talk about her new book My Community. This is what she had to say.
Hi Raven, thanks for stopping by the studio, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, Sam! Thanks so much for inviting me! This is a wonderful opportunity to bring attention to several causes and children’s issues I’m passionate about. My new picture book with illustrator Yeng Yang, titled My Community is my sixth picture book release – but it’s my first rhyming picture book so it’s an exciting time.
I’ve been writing children’s poetry professionally for the past 25 years and have been involved with magazine work, greeting card verse writing, and I started out in publishing and was a songwriter when I worked at Atlantic Records in NYC prior to that. Writing has always been a part of my life, and I can’t really remember a time without it!
My recent releases are the poetry picture books, Shimmer, Songs of Night (Clear Fork Publishing) and A Star Full of Sky (Kelsay Books).
My poems can be found in many children’s magazines such as Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, Highlights for Children, HighFive, Hello, Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and Stinkwaves.
I serve as Creative and Publishing Advisor with Red Clover Reader, and you can usually find me giving a children’s poetry workshop in libraries and classrooms.
What was the message behind your story?
In My Community, a girl walks readers through her day from morning to nighttime, and we’re introduced to many members of her diverse community, teaching tolerance, acceptance, love and kindness. The story is focused on a wide variety of people and characters that make up our neighbourhoods allowing a child to perceive each person as a piece of the whole puzzle.
What inspired you to write this story?
My Community started out as a long poem, but once I began editing, it sang out to me for revision to a picture book format. The inspiration behind it came from feeling the need to express tolerance towards diversity in a simple entertaining story.
I have always been supportive of the non-profit, 'WeNeedDiverseBooks' and this seemed like a perfect way to contribute.
How would you like your story to impact children?
Rhymes, such as the verse in my book, most often contribute toward the learning of patterns and sequence and memorization linked to being very helpful in math and language skills educationally. In addition, I’d be thrilled if My Community influences children to view and participate in their own communities with light and giving hearts.
"My hope or wish is that every child acknowledges and embraces their own unique self."
Is there another book on its way? And can you tell us anything about it?
I have four upcoming picture books scheduled for 2019, and have the wonderful opportunity to work with several publishers and super talented illustrators.
My book, Greetings! celebrates the seasons of the year, So You Want a Puppy? explores the happy challenges of acquiring and taking care of a new pet. Also on the agenda are two new books through Clear Fork Publishing, Glitter, Sing of Sun! -a companion book to Shimmer, Songs of Night, and A Cheer for the Year! -a poetry book about the holidays.
What values are most important to you and why?
In regard to My Community, the value and importance of a joyful and loving community are at the forefront.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope or wish is that every child acknowledges and embraces their own unique self, accepts diversity, and shares kindness with all people and situations that present themselves on life’s path.
Do you think your story is best read at home or in the classroom?
My book when read at home would be fantastic to share with parents. Did you know that children comprehend stories and are more attentive and happier when reading books snuggled with parents or a parental figure as opposed to on their own?
I think this book can particularly engage a parent/child conversation about the various people we meet in our world, about the diversity of jobs, abilities, gender, colour, ethnicity.
My Community is also the perfect book for elementary classrooms since most schools have a program they study about their local communities in which the children learn about various careers and responsibilities to their own environment.
Thank you Raven, for your time today. I wish you all the very best with My Community, and I am looking forward to your new stories as they come out.
My Community is available to order in dyslexic font both in hardcover and softcover.
Here are the links:
Raven's website: www.ravenhowell.com