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Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Interview with Raven Howell: Children's Book Writer and Artist

Inspiring children to feel good about themselves, to express their creativity, and to embrace nature are some of the goals of Raven Howell, a children's author who lives and works in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York.

1.   What is your name and your background? 
My name is Raven Howell and I live and work in the Hudson Valley, NY. Writing for children has always come naturally to me. I’m also the daughter of a poet. Creativity, writing and all the arts were encouraged in our household during my childhood. As a full time author, a lot of my time is spent in classrooms, working along students with learning disabilities, and presenting workshops in libraries.

For the past 25 years I’ve been specifically focused on children’s stories and poetry, releasing picture and poetry books, and writing regularly for many kids’ magazines such as Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, High Five, and Humpty Dumpty. Before that, my work also involved writing verse for greeting cards, and I enjoyed being a songwriter and working in publishing at Atlantic Records in NYC.

2.  What is the name of your book and what is it about? Greetings is the title of my latest release, a picture book for preschool through K. Written in lyrical rhyme with bright, colorful illustrations, it melds the seasonal joys that occur between nature and children.

3.  What inspired you to write it?
Two things inspired my writing Greetings. I credit my mother for instilling me with my love of nature and the seasons. She was the first to teach me tenderness and awe with the new sprung sprout, an unexpected rain shower, or the magic of patting and rolling snowballs for snowmen. I learned appreciation for the slinky green inchworm or sneaky fox in the woods. I wanted to share that joy with the preschooler! Also, my publisher was in the midst of expanding their children’s book division, and a concept book was the perfect fit.

4.   What is special about it?
Greetings is a special combination of being a concept teaching book as well as poetry! The reader is not only taught the four seasons, but taken on a journey through the year exploring sights, sounds, smells, touch and even taste.

5.   Can you give a few examples of people who have successfully used the approach?
Preschool and K class teachers have used the seasons to help students understand cycles. It can be an “Ah-ha” moment when a child starts experiencing the world as it runs on cycles of time, day and night, and the seasons.

As far as parenting is concerned, what’s a better way to inspire your child to physically go outdoors and explore nature and get exercise than to encourage them with the gifts of the seasons? A teacher who had been given a pre-release copy of my book mentioned how it helped her students relate to nature better and in turn relate to the environment in their own lives.

6.   What are your plans?
I have many book events during this school year until the end of June, and am scheduling presentations for the fall already. Some of the events coming up: I will be at the Blodgett Library in Fishkill, NY on May 11th, The Millbrook Literary festival on May 18th, Hellertown Library in Pennsylvania on June 21stand sharing my books with underprivileged children at the Beacon Book-reading Blast-off June 26th in NY. My book events are coupled with fun children's activities including a simple magic marker/water dropper craft the kids create into weather clouds and seasonal suns!

I also have another book release in June, a picture poetry book for readers ages 5 and up. It’s titled Glimmer, Sing of Sun, and is a companion book to Shimmer, Songs of Night. Presently I'm writing six fractured fairytales for a publisher's new imprint. My website is a good go-to for updates, information on all my available work, and teaching tips. I hope you’ll check it out!

A big thank you for the opportunity to share and participate!

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