For the giveaway, make sure to comment below and follow this blog for your chance to win a signed copy of QUARKS! the first in the Baby Loves series!
Hi Ruth, thank you so much for coming by the MathisEverywhere blog today!
You work so diligently to research subjects that are important for kids. How do you think you got so hardworking?
When you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work! I’ve always liked to do research and learn new things, so writing each book feels like a mini-challenge to me. I want to make sure each book is informative and accurate, but the most important goal is that they’re fun to read too.
How do you go about researching your books? Can you give an example of how you researched for BABY LOVES CODING?
I always start with a visit to the library to see if there are any other children’s books on the topic, then I move into the adult section. I also do a lot of research online to find the most current information, and I prefer to use websites or articles written by well-respected, reputable sources. If I need more detail or further explanation I may contact a scientist or other expert and ask questions directly.
For BABY LOVES CODING I considered the aspects of coding that are developmentally appropriate, and because these books are for very little ones I wanted to focus on the concept being screen-free. Interestingly, I learned that the foundational skills required to begin coding are also essential pre-reading skills—reading left-to-right, sequencing, recognizing patterns, etc.
You have such a powerful following of people who love your books, especially your BABY LOVES books. As a writer, how did you build up a following?
I’ve been on social media for a long time, and have built up my networks by sharing in genuine interaction. I try not to self-promote too much and connect with people who seem interesting to me. I like to participate in Twitter chats and other opportunities to share ideas and resources. I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @ruthspiro and would love to hear from your readers!
In your latest book MADE BY MAXINE, the main character wants her pet fish to march in the pet parade. I have to know, what inspired this comical premise!
It’s actually a very long story that evolved as my story did, but I wanted Maxine’s “making” to be purposeful–there had to be a reason why she was motivated to make her ultimate contraption. I came up with the idea that she was driven by love for a pet, and I really liked the idea of the contrast between the simplicity of a goldfish and the complexity of her final creation.
When you’re writing a series, does it get tough to keep the originality as well as consisentcy for your audience? If so, how do you overcome this?
This is an interesting question, because I have two very different series. Baby Loves Science is a series, but each book is different—the topic, the main character, and the story. So for this series the challenge is to come up with topics that fall under the STEM umbrella, that can also be related to familiar real-world experience. For each book, I begin with a new Baby and unique storyline.
Made by Maxine is also a series, but jn a very different way. The first story is an introduction to the character, so readers can get to know her and fall in love with her. The second boo will continue with Maxine and Milton (her goldfish), but we also introduce a new character and a new story problem to solve. So, the books in this series are more closely related in terms of the characters and the type of story. The second book is written and is currently being illustrated, and I know there will be at least one more book in Maxine’s series, but I haven’t written that one yet.
As you know, BABY LOVES QUARKS! has been one of my daughter’s favorite books since before she was one (she’s now two-and-a-half), how did you figure out that kids would adore the blocks analogy you use in the book?
This analogy was actually very simple! Atoms and molecules are frequently describee as “the building block of nature” so this seemed like a natural comparison that would help illustrate the concept. I’m happy to hear it’s your daughter’s favorite. Interestingly, there’s something about that book that seems to make it appealing to even the very littlest scientists!
Looking back on your writing career, can you comoare and/or contrast to now (ie. your approach to writing, the ease or lack thereof, etc.)?
Wow, this could make for a very long answer! I think the most important takeaway here is that I never imagined I’d be a writer, let alone a children’s book author. My entire career evolved out of a willingness to try new things and stretch my creativity. I’ve always believed that it’s important to be open to new experiences and continue learning every day. Things have a way of connecting in very surprising ways, and can even become the “building blocks” of your next great opportunity.
Just for fun, can share two random things about yourself?
I “thing” for flamingos and wriggle my ears! (How’s that for random?!)
In BABY LOVES STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, I love how you include arch as one of the shapes. This is not a typical shape taught to young kids, how did you decide this should be included?
This decision was based on my research of structural engineering. The arch was one of the basic shapes mentioned in everything I read, so I thought it was important to include. I know it’s a visually familiar shape, though not often discussed, so it made sense to include it.
You must get tons of fan mail from parents teachers, other writers, etc. because your books are so amazing and inspiring, but every time I have written to you, you have always replied back quickly. How do you find the time?
Honestly, I feel this is the one area in which I often fall short. If someone sends me a quick email I try to respond within a day or so; otherwise the email gets pushed further down in my inbox and I may forget about it. Same with social media—if someone tags me in a post I try to comment that same day. But when a more substantive reply is required, such as for an interview or speaking request, it can take me longer to respond than I’d like. This has a lot to do with the publication process for my books and their deadlines. There’s a lot of back-and-forth between me, my agent, editors, and expert reviewers, and we’re often on a very tight schedule. I’m sure it goes without saying that I have to prioritize, and these tasks must come first. Then, if I’m out of my office at a school visit, bookstore signing or other event, I’m not available to respond to correspondence at all. I just try to do the best I can and hope everyone understands!
Finally, if you got the chance to spend the afternoon with your favorite author, would you rather: go outside and fly a kite or sit by the fire and have tea?
Lucky me, I’ve already had the opportunity to to sit in a cozy farmhouse during a snowstorm, drinking tea and chatting with Jane Yolen… Perhaps next time I’ll suggest we try flying a kite!
Ruth, thank you so much for these fun answers and wonderful insights. I had blast this interview and learning so much!
If you haven’t connected with Ruth on social media yet, make sure to do so, and if you haven’t checked out her amazing books, you should definitely do that too! Here is her website, and of course, don’t forget to follow this blog and comment for a chance to win a signed copy of QUARKS!