What inspired you to write this book?
I have a couple of reasons for writing, What Would You Do?A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, beginning with a traumatic memory from my childhood. My very good childhood friend and classmate was abducted, raped and murdered by a predator. Adding to the tragedy of the story is the fact that her mother, the next year, committed suicide. She was never able to cope with the loss of her daughter, especially in such a violent way.
That haunting memory has always affected me, even as I became a mother myself. One of my greatest fears as a young mother, and even now that my children are grown with children of their own, is that something similar could happen to my children or grandchildren. That fear, combined with the alarming statistics regarding missing, exploited, and abused children is the second reason that prompted me to write a book that would teach children to take a pro-active role in staying safe from predator harm, abduction, or exploitation, and to help parents and other child caregivers learn how to keep children safe from such danger.
What topics in your book or background do you think book clubs would find interesting?
I think that book clubs who are interested in exploring a resource that would help advocate for child safety from any kind of exploitation, abduction, abuse, or predator harm would be of paramount importance. After all, as the African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Tell us about your career outside of writing and how it influenced your writing.
I taught school as a Language Arts teacher and as a school librarian for 30 years. In that time span, I have worked with children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Because I have worked so many years with children, after retiring from the school system, I wanted to still be able to impact children’s lives in a positive way. That is why I write children’s books.
Describe your style of writing.
What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers is a non-fiction safety book. I feel that it’s important that such a book be well-researched. My style of writing always includes research as a foundation. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction for children, my writing style is one that endeavors to engage and speak to children in a personal way. My writing style is one that addresses children’s issues, needs, and interests in a very relatable way.
Which authors have inspired you?
My favorite adult book author who has been inspirational to me is Harper Lee. She captured the very essence of children in her masterful characterizations through Jem and Scout while, at the same time, addressing very important societal concerns.
One of my favorite children’s book authors has always been Judy Blume. Children can relate so well to her characters and their problems and concerns in both a humorous and philosophical way. Margaret, in Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is a perfect example.
By: Melissa Ridenour
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