TNM: How long have you been writing children’s books and what inspired you to get into this genre?
MR: It’s been 22 years since I self-published my very first book! I was recovering from brain surgery to remove a benign tumor and started hand-painting thank-you cards for all the people who had given me gifts. A friend started selling my cards to some local gift shops and my creative career was born! Since then, I’ve authored more than 60 books and sold more than 6 million copies. I’m currently published with Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher.
TNM: What are some of your favorite books you’ve authored? I know that’s like asking which of your children is your favorite:)
MR: I know, don’t tell my other books! :) I’m especially fond of the messages of Hooray for You, Be Brave Little One and I Love You So…
Hooray for You is a celebration of being unique. Why do you think this is so important in today’s society to encourage children to be confident in their uniqueness as well as accept others’ uniqueness?
Kids and adults are surrounded by many ways to size up oneself against another — sports teams, test scores, social media followers, job titles! Hooray for You underscores that our “you-ness” is on purpose, an internal inventory the skills, quirks and talents that are uniquely ours. If we build self-esteem, then we are better able to appreciate and learn from others, too.
TNM: Can you suggest some creative activities that could go along with your book?
MR: Any activity that allows kids and grownups to share themselves and/or learn from others is a good one to bring this message of “you-ness” to life! Creative self-expression, volunteering, visiting a museum to learn about other people and places. To create the big lettering and collage elements featured throughout Hooray for You, I painted on paper lunch bags and cut out the various shapes! Kids can do their own college and/or affirmation posters using this process.
TNM: How can families encourage their children to read more and interact with screens less?
MR: I get this question a lot! My own kids were not natural readers — we did family trips to the library and had designated reading time when they young in an attempt to encourage reading. I think anything we can do to encourage a love of storytelling in general — be it through theatre, songwriting or audio books — is valuable!
TNM: You’re hosting an event at Parnassus Books, can you tell us more about the book reading?
MR: On June 1 at 2:00pm, I will be sharing a bit about my author journey, the inspiration behind my books and of course reading my newest book, Hooray for You, as well as some of my other books. Given I have only lived here 18 months, this is the first chance I’ve had to share my work with the local community. I would so love to meet the families in my new city.
TNM:What are your family’s favorite places around Nashville?
MR: We have four kids, ages 15-21 so family excursions are harder to come by, especially with two college kids. We love Percy Warner for hiking as well as Sounds baseball and Nashville soccer club. We’ve hit some of the many concerts in various parks which is wonderful. First Watch for brunch, Ground for burgers and Jeni’s ice cream!