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Q & A with Famous Author Moms

  • Emily Giffin

    Emily Giffin, author of "The One & Only"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    Three: Edward and George, identical twins, age 10; and Harriet, age 7.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Read to them. They might not like reading, but they can still love books. The love of books leads to a love of reading.

    If your parenting style were a book, what would it be called?
    Well, I'm terrible at coming up with book titles, but the gist would be to "Do Your Best, and Let It Go." They will remember the quality of certain moments, not what you couldn't do. My husband joked that it should be called "I'M THE BOSS!"

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    This summer will be crazy with my book tour, but I have several books on my list, including "Family Life" by Akhil Sharma, "Bark" by Lorrie Moore, "Casebook" by Mona Simpson and an advance copy of my good friend Marisa de los Santos's book "The Precious One."

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    There are too many to name. I read all summer, every summer as a kid. I loved all the "Betsy, Tacy and Tib" books, the "Ramona" books, the "Anne of Green Gables" series, and everything by Judy Blume and E.L. Konigsburg.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    Books by Lois Lowry, Mike Lupica, Kate DiCamillo, and Jerry Spinelli. Best book I've read to the kids all year is "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio.

  • Jane Green

    Jane Green, author of "Tempting Fate"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    Max, 18; Harry, 14; Tabitha, 12; Nate and Jasper, 10.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Read with them. I didn't understand why my kids wouldn't settle down and read until I realized I was setting the worst example of all, sitting with them and playing on my iPhone. I got a book—yes, a book rather than a Kindle or Nook—and started sitting with them and reading. We had a routine every night of curling up on my bed, so it became this lovely cozy treat the kids would look forward to, and I had managed to carve out some much-needed reading time for myself. Children will imitate what you do, not what you say.

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    "Chaos: One Woman's Story of How She Survived."

    What book will you be reading this summer and why?
    Emily Giffin's "The One & Only," which I cannot wait for.

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up in the center of London, and these books implanted a deep love of America, as I believed it to be, and the countryside.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    We still haven't decided, but one of the twins will read anything he can get his hands on. When we were on vacation at Christmas, he finished all his books, and the only thing left unread was an advance copy I had with me about a middle-aged woman whose marriage fell apart. He insisted on reading it, and we didn't see him for three days.

  • Susie Orman Schnall

    Susie Orman Schnall, author of "On Grace"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    Three boys: ages 9, 11 and 13.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    I think moms could always try the tried-and-true technique of reading to their kids. My kids always love choosing a book and snuggling in bed. My two older boys devour books, but the youngest boy does not love reading. What I realized, though, is that he doesn't love reading the books his brothers loved when they were his age. Instead, he loves sports books, world travel books, "The Guinness Book of World Records" and "Sports Illustrated for Kids," so sometimes we have to think outside of traditional books and beyond fiction to get our kids to love reading.

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    "Sense and Sensibility," "The 'Son' Also Rises," "Great Expectations," "She's Come Undone." Okay, for real: "The Loving-But-Not-Indulgent Mom's Guide to Raising Resilient, Fun and Decent Citizens of the World (At Least Trying To)."

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    "The Secret Life of Violet Grant" by Beatriz Williams. I loved "A Hundred Summers" by her [when I read it] last summer and can't wait to read this new book of hers. And, hopefully, I'll be reading my next manuscript!

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    I know I devoured every single Judy Blume book, and I'm sure there was a summer in there somewhere.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    They all have required reading for school, and those books include "Because of Winn-Dixie" for my rising fourth grader, "The Mysterious Benedict Society" for my rising sixth grader and "Moon Over Manifest" for my rising eighth grader. In addition, my fourth grader will read every issue of "Sports Illustrated," my sixth grader will devour the "Divergent" series and books/magazines about animals and Minecraft, and my eighth grader will read any dystopian book he can get his hands on!

  • Beth Kendrick

    Beth Kendrick, author of "The Cure for the Common Breakup"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    I have one adorable kindergartener.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Go to the Barnes & Noble children's section and let the chips fall where they may. Whatever strikes your child's fancy—fiction, nonfiction, comic books—just say "yes," and let them approach reading in their own way. "Calvin & Hobbes" compilations, in particular, tend to appeal to kids because the drawings are so vibrant and the protagonist is a 7-year-old boy with a naughty streak and a tiger sidekick. What's not to like?!

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    "Proof of Life Parenting." If everyone is still alive at the end of the day, it's a win!

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    "Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink" by Kim Gruenenfelder. (Actually, THAT should be the title of my parenting manual!) I loved the author's previous books, and this one looks like the perfect poolside read.

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    I loved Beverly Cleary's "Ramona" books because the character of Ramona Quimby is bursting with life and moxie and courage. I was a very shy, quiet child, and Ramona was my hero.

    What book will your kid be reading this summer?
    We're going to try some old-school E.B. White: "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little." And lots of "Highlights" magazines. We live for hidden pictures.

  • Allison Winn Scotch

    Allison Winn Scotch, author of "The Theory of Opposites"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    I have two kids: a son, who is 9 1/2, and a daughter, who is 7 1/2.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Don't get them books you think they should read; get them books that they WANT to read. My son was fairly lukewarm on reading when he first started reading independently. I noticed that he really gravitated toward books with humor and mischievous, silly kids, so that's what we went for. All I wanted to do was foster a love of books. Now, several years later, he is such a voracious reader that he goes through several books a week. In fact, I am so constantly on the hunt for new reading ideas for him that I started a website—Parents Read Best—where parents can share what their kids are reading and loving, and/or ask for tips or ideas for their own kids.

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    "Don't Worry, Be Happy (But Clean Up Your Room, Be Polite and Do Your Homework Too)"

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    I read a lot over the summer, more than at any other time of year, so yay to all the new books! I just picked up Josh Ferris's new novel, which I'm really excited about. His first book is on my all-time favorites list. I'm also really looking forward to Liane Moriarty's new one. I absolutely adored "The Husband's Secret." Oh, and I've heard great things about "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You" by Courtney Maum.

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    Gosh, this feels like an impossible question! When I think of summer and reading, I think of Judy Blume: "Blubber," "Are You There God?," "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great," "Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing." Obviously (and it almost goes without saying), Blume writes flawed, funny, relatable kids like no other. And as a child, it's important that you see yourself reflected back on the pages. Not only does that make you want to turn the page again and again, but it makes you feel like there are other kids out there like you. All of Blume's characters struggle and triumph and screw up and make amends and were, I suppose, generally like me. :) My kids have now discovered her books, and it couldn't give me more pleasure than to pass them on.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    My son just tore through the "I, Q" series by Roland Smith, and the last one in the series is coming out in August, so that will top his list, for sure. He's also been loving the "Kidnapped" and "On the Run" series by Gordon Korman, so I imagine more of the same. My daughter and I are working our way through the "My Weird School" books by Dan Gutman. She loves them.

  • Amy Shearn

    Amy Shearn author of "The Mermaid of Brooklyn"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    I have two children: a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son; little kids, big bookworms.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Make books a part of the culture of your home. My kids know I love to read and write; their room is filled with books; and we use trips to the bookstore as special treats. Weekly (sometimes daily) visits to the library are a crucial part of our lives. It's the one place where I never have to say no. They are always psyched to check out an enormous stack of books, and my kids are little enough that just getting to pick their own books is a thrill for them.

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    "Amy Shearn's Never-Long-Enough Naptime Writing Session"

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    I have a huge stack on my nightstand, including the fabulous, smart, summer page-turners "Cutting Teeth" by Julia Fierro (about a group of Brooklyn parents, so of course, I'm into it); "Bittersweet" by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore; "Can't and Won't" because I love the way Lydia Davis's sentences make my brain feel; and "My Struggle," the first of the six-volume novel by the "Scandinavian Proust" Karl Ove Knausgaard, because so many friends have recommended it and, well, doesn't it just sound like a great beach read?

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    Sometime around fourth grade, I became obsessed with the "Oz" books, and I remember distinctly my great pleasure each time I found the next one in the series on the library shelf. The public library in Highland Park, Ill., bless them, had the original hardbound volumes with their dreamy, art-deco illustrations and old-book smell. I had never realized that "The Wizard of Oz" was part of a series, and I just loved the way the whimsical world unfolded and all the quirky characters that were introduced. I probably spent the whole summer in my room poring through them while my mom tried to get me to play outside.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    They are both obsessed with the "Magic School Bus" series in all its incarnations and have just discovered the strange joy that is "Where's Waldo?" and those other "I Spy"-type books. My daughter, who is a precocious and ravenous reader, cannot wait for the new books in both the "Violet Mackerel and Stella Batts" series to come out.

    We have two instructional manuals on deck, too: "Mud Pies and Other Recipes," which is a cookbook for dolls, and "How To Do Nothing With Nobody All Alone By Yourself," a kooky handbook of independence that Tin House recently republished.

    But we're not done with picture books either. I'm especially excited for Stephany Aulenback's "If I Wrote a Book About You," a lovely book from a wonderful writer. And I just now at this very moment, by weird Googling synchronicity, rediscovered one of my favorite picture books from when I was a kid, the long out-of-print "Fantastic Toy" by Monika Beisner! I've been trying to remember what this book was since my daughter was born. I'm going to go order it right now.

  • Suzanne Palmieri

    Suzanne Palmieri, author of "The Witch of Belladonna Bay"

    How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
    Three girls at 20, 12 and 8.

    What is your advice for other moms to encourage their kids to read?
    Is there anything more discouraging than hearing our children tell us that they don't like to read? All three of my daughters went through this. (The 8-year-old is still going through it.) I'd have to say that the most effective way I've found to encourage my children to read is... to read! Read to them, of course. But, as they get older, reading in front of them is really the key! I read before bed, in the sun, at breakfast and while we watch TV together. I'm always reading. It's how I relax, and they are slowly picking up the "habit."

    If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
    Oh, this is a great question: "She Always Held My Hand." I think. I was going for funny at first, but really, I don't care what they do with their lives. I simply care how they feel about whatever it is they choose to do. And that they know, without a second of hesitation, that when they catch their breath and reach out for me, I will always be there.

    What book will you be reading this summer?
    I've been writing so much that I have a To-Read pile that may topple and hurt someone! But on the tippy top of that pile is "The Museum of Extraordinary Things" by the amazing Alice Hoffman. I stare at it sometimes with deep longing.

    What was your favorite summer book as a kid?
    I have to say, "Dandelion Wind" by Ray Bradbury is my all-time favorite summer read. I read it first as a young teen and keep it by my bed. I loved the descriptions and the rich atmosphere he created. Still makes me feel like a kid running through the soft summer fields. Just beautiful.

    What books will your kids be reading this summer?
    I have three daughters. My oldest (20!) will be reading everything she can get her hands on! My middle (12) will be reading "The Hunger Games." And my baby (8) will be reading the dictionary. No! Just kidding, though we do "Word of the Day" games. I'll be reading her "The Secret Garden," which is a rite of passage in this house.

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