July 11, 1944 |
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
My stories deal with multicultural situations as well as multigenerational settings.
I used to say to my bubbe, 'Bubbe, is this story true?' And she'd say, 'Of course it's true! But it may not have happened.' What my bubbe was saying is profound: All stories are true. The truth is the journey you take through it – did it make you laugh, cry, seek and want justice? Then it's true.
I came from a family of incredible storytellers, but I didn't start writing children's books until I was 41 years old.
My books cover many aspects of daily life through which your children will recognize their own relationships in their families and communities.
I don't believe being gay is something you can change, no more than you can change the color of your hair or your eyes. Well, I dye my hair, so maybe that's not the best example. But your eyes!
I have been in more classrooms than any legislator will ever walk into in their lives, and I see wonderful, caring, dedicated teaching out there.
All of us have a 'voice' inside where all inspired thoughts come from. When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to turn off the TV and listen to that voice inside them.
Until we learn to honor and respect what other people believe, I think we are doomed.
I don't know if my work is a concerted effort to make kids sad! But life and death go hand in hand. It's our condition as human beings.
I didn't learn to read until I was almost 14 years old. Reading out loud for me was a nightmare because I would mispronounce words or reconstruct things that weren't even there. That's when one of my teachers discovered I had a learning disability called dyslexia. Once I got help, I read very well!
I believe with all my heart that the American classroom teachers are one of our greatest and most heroic treasures.
I don't care what color the parents are. I don't care if it's a giraffe and a fish living together. If they're raising children who believe they're honored and loved, that's all that's important.
My appearances are almost theatrical performances. I bring items for the children to see, such as photographs and actual piece of meteorite, a family quilt, sometimes spectacles, sometimes clothing, so that they can understand what I write about is family stories based in fact.
Maybe one of you can enlighten me, but I just don't understand why it is so hard to be kind to one another?
Show me an Irishman who can't tell a story – I don't think they exist.
What I loved the most about Oakland was that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas, and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike!
When you come from a family of storytellers, you're doomed. You just have to tell stories.
My parents were divorced when I was three, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad.
I wasn't a very good student in elementary school and had a hard time with reading and writing.
I could walk into anyone's home one time and draw a three-dimensional architectural plan of the inside of their home from memory, but I could not add up a column of numbers.
Generally, what adults want to know is my background, why I write what I write, and very personal insights that some say are inspiring.
My family always encouraged my drawing ability. Kids in school who teased me about my reading would get out of their seats and stand behind my desk as I worked and go, 'Wow, you can really draw.' Later, I earned a degree in Fine Art and got a Ph.D. in Art History.
When I was growing up, we never had much money. My parents were divorced young, but I was always surrounded by loving individuals. They couldn't give us riches, but they gave us their stories, their hearts, and their time.
Now, I've got to tell you: 'In Our Mothers House,' I don't think is for a kindergartner.
I lived the first five years of my life on a farm in Union City, Michigan, with my mom and grandparents. It was the most magical time of my life.