Coronavirus has book lovers reading more than ever. Is your coronavirus reading list different from your regular reading list? If yes, how has it changed?
I’ve thrown myself into work—a most welcome distraction from COVID. I’m reading a lot of World War II books that are research for my current work in progress; they’re helpful for putting this virus in perspective. What’s wonderful about this time is that our NYC daughter is living with us and we’ve spent a lot of time sharing and discussing favorite books. Honestly, other current events have changed my reading list more than COVID. I’m learning a lot reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. I’ve found book ideas taking a walk, reading old family letters, playing with my grandchildren, sailing in Maine, weeding my vegetable garden. Some of my best ideas come to me in those early morning hours before I’m fully awake.
Who made reading important to you?
My mom. She read voraciously herself and always read aloud to me and my siblings at bedtime. What’s funny is that she preferred nonfiction, especially biographies. She always said, “Why read it if it isn’t true?” I don’t agree with that and as an adult, prefer reading fiction. But what am I writing these days? Biographies.
How would you describe your books?
I write about things that make me go “Wow!” Lately, I’m absorbed by true stories of talented, courageous, and resilient kids. Ada’s Violin tells the true story of a girl living on a landfill in Paraguay who became world famous playing Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart on a violin made from recycled trash. Titan and the Wild Boars recounts the story of the twelve boys and their coach who were rescued from a cave in Thailand. Lifeboat 12 is my first middle grade book, based on the true World War II story of a thirteen-year-old boy who saved 45 people adrift on a lifeboat after their ship was torpedoed by the Nazis. Shaking Things Up is about 14 girls and young women who changed the world. My next book, The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics, celebrates the efforts of kids around the world who are fighting the increasingly dire threat of plastic pollution. It hits bookstores in February 2021.
What books did you enjoy as a child?
A Hole is to Dig, Madeline, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Story of Ferdinand, Blueberries for Sal, The Secret Garden, the Nutshell Library, The Little House, Charlotte’s Web, Ramona, Half Magic, The Phantom Tollbooth, Pippi Longstocking, Misty of Chincoteague, and Nancy Drew.
What message would you like to send to young readers?
Choose whatever books you like, but read, read, read! If you’re like my mom and don’t like fiction, try nonfiction or graphic novels or poetry. Books can help you learn more about yourself, develop empathy for others, sort through complex and confusing issues, and help you make this world a better place.
Susan Hood is author of more than 200 books for young readers and has been awarded the E.B. White Honor Award, the Christopher Award, the Américas Award, the International Latino Award, and the Bank Street Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, given to “a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people.” Susan’s first novel, LIFEBOAT 12, won the 2018 Connecticut Book Award and the 2019 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for middle-grade fiction. Susan lives with her family and three-year-old pup in southern Connecticut and enjoys spending summers on the water—swimming, kayaking, and sailing with her husband along the New England coast. Visit Susan at susanhoodbooks.com
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