I’m continuously inspired and amazed by the breadth and depth of Intentional Writers in the world. This week is the first time I’ve interviewed a children’s author – the lovely Rita Goldner! As someone who thinks about even the smallest acts having an environmental impact, I love the intent behind her book! It’s important to communicate environmental messages to children because it can have an even stronger impact than focusing on just adults (kids will often teach adults!). This is why having intentionally written children’s books is so powerful (and essential for lasting social change!)! But it’s not for everyone – writing children’s literature is definitely a calling – and I’m grateful that writers like Rita have answered!
Interview with Rita Goldner
Tell us a little about you.
I have a degree in Art Education from Rhode Island College, and have always loved painting and drawing. My illustration style is whimsical and brightly colored, so it seemed a natural fit for children’s picture books. Being an educator, I am passionate about the quality of children’s literature. I’m now a full-time author/illustrator and a published member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
When and why did you start writing?
About 7 years ago, I took a class in writing and illustrating picture books from Molly Idle, who later won a Caldecott honor. It was excellent, and I was so intrigued, I signed up for the advanced class, and began do devour how-to books on writing for children, plot development, pacing, etc. I also took several online classes to improve my illustrating, which was easier for me than the writing.
Why did you choose to write your book, “Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy?”
I’m also passionate about animals, especially endangered species, so I hoped to educate young readers, and the adults who may read to them, about orangutans in the wild.
If there is one thing you’d want people to do after reading this book, what would it be?
I’d want parents and children to keep alive the discussion about wild endangered species, their threatened habitats, and our need to reduce pollution.
Why do the characters have no names or nicknames?
I was determined to make the story scientifically accurate, about a real wild orangutan, not a cartoon version. I wanted children to fall in love with this critically endangered animal, and his beautiful habitat, so they would someday make a difference in the world.
What is the best way to connect with you online?
Readers can see a 5-page peek at Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy at: www.orangutanday.com and I love getting notes from at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you Rita for sharing about your work!
As a former teacher and now parent, I know how important it is to tell children stories that spread ideas and beliefs that serve them and humanity as a whole (You can read more of my thoughts on this in my Good Men Project piece here).
I’ve been thinking this a lot as one of my son’s favorite books is Virginia Lee Burton’s Maybelle the Cable Car, which is a heavy dose of democratic and civil social ideals (which I love!). I love reading stories to my son that spread ideas that make the world better – and I’m so grateful to writers like Rita for writing them!
What are some children’s books that spread good messages to our kids? Leave a recommendation (no seriously – I’m always looking for more!).
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