Kate B. Jerome is a seasoned publishing executive and award-winning author who has written more than 100 children’s books including Who Was Amelia Earhart?
, of the New York Times bestselling biography series. She recently completed a Fellowship at Stanford University’s Distinguished Careers Institute and is an expert in (and passionate proponent of) intergenerational communication. See her TEDx talk
to learn more.
Q&A with the author of the Lucky to Live In and Wise Animal Handbook children’s series.
Q. As a best-selling and award-winning author of over 100 nonfiction books for children, what inspired you to create these two series?
In 2015 I did a Fellowship in the Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University. This year-long immersion allowed me the time to connect some important dots that ultimately inspired me to create these new series.
It’s no secret that children thrive when they have frequent conversations with caring adults…but sometimes our busy world makes it hard to find time to talk about some of the most important things that children need to learn.
So I decided to tackle the problem. The result is the READ TOGETHER/DO TOGETHER™ line of children’s books that are intended to jump-start meaningful conversations between kids and adults that not only promote literacy but also contribute to a child’s social and emotional development.
I was delighted that Arcadia was interested in the idea, because their expertise in local and regional publishing allowed me to customize the content to particular regions and states to make it even more relevant to the reader.
Q. What is your hope for these books and the people who purchase them?
My sincere hope is that the books inspire the kinds of conversations that bring out the laughter and love that already exist between kids and their favorite adults.…I strongly believe these kinds of “vertical connections” are mutually beneficial to both!
Q. When it comes to educating young people, what is the best bit of advice you can offer?
Helping a child learn to read unlocks the door. But thoughtful conversations give a child the courage to walk through it.
Q. What has been your favorite part in creating these series?
I loved designing the multiple layers in the books…from beautiful design to interesting rhymes to meaningful purpose behind each spread. I was constantly working a kind of creative Rubik’s Cube in my head to get all the elements to come together…and believe me, there were many frustrating dead-ends (not to mention staring off into space moments with very patient friends!). But when the solutions all finally lined up…well, the satisfaction was immense!
Q. Are the characters in the LUCKY TO LIVE IN series, the fox family, based on actual people?
I do have a son and a daughter who are, in fact, my own personal heroes…so they probably did serve as a subliminal influence to get the fox family characters just right. But my talented designer and illustrator understood the goal of portraying strong intergenerational relationships from the start, and I think they did a marvelous job in getting the characters look and style just right!
Q.Do you have a favorite picture/saying in the Wise Animal Handbook? Why is it your favorite?
My kids and I love animals…and we’ve always had great fun projecting human emotions onto just about every animal we see, so creating verse to go with the great photos was second nature to me. Different people react to different photos in the book…but I’ve never seen anyone read the Wise Animal Handbook without cracking a smile so that alone makes me favor everything about it. However, if you really press me, I must admit I personally love the tattle-tale penguin shot because it’s so rich in conveying the meaning behind the important “Avoid the tattle in the tale” text.
I also laugh out loud at the brown bear photo with the text that says, “Excuse yourself when manners slip,” because if my own kids had read this book at a young age, I know they would have had a hilarious debate about how the offending action could be coming from either end of the bear!
Q. Where do you find creativity and inspiration?
Have you ever been reading a book to a child and about to turn a page when the child suddenly yells out, “Wait…Wait!” be-cause he or she is not done inspecting and examining and interacting with the page?
That’s always a “holy grail” experience for me…and when I really tune-in to what is going on in that wonderful little mind right then and there, it often creates an “AHA” moment that leads to my next creative leap. Kids always provide an endless supply of magic in my life!
Q. Are you working on anything new now?
Yes! I’m hard at work on another READ TOGETHER/DO TOGETHER™ series that will be ready sometime next year…and I’m advising on some other interesting projects including a virtual reality educational program. There are never enough hours in the day…but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!