Books, books, books. They were everywhere in my home. My father was a collector-a bookaholic!-a collector of rare books, especially Judaica and languages-obscure and otherwise. But not only eclectic books. Books on myth, myths themselves, legend, folklore, books on the Bible and from the Bible, books on animal, vegetable, and mineral.
Both my parents read extensively to my brother and myself-and we to them. Children's classics - I still am able to recite "Pooh Poems," poems from A Child's Garden of Verses, and other classics, and on and on.
So I grew up with a deep respect for "the book"-that held worlds I couldn't wait to enter.
In my teens, my mother stocked my bookcase with adult literature-poems as well as novels. She herself loved Austin, Eliot, Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare - to name only a few.
Yet I never thought of being a writer. It happened by chance with an encounter (and now long-time friendship) with another author that I discovered my joy in writing for children. I love my audience. I love how children are free from "bad philosophy." How the geography of childhood has no obstacles, borders, or frontiers. Children are wide-eyed travelers - every book is an adventure to which they come open-minded and excited. Their world is straight forward to the horizon.
I write for children because I love and admire their honesty. You can't fool them. And so, I hope, we who do write for them must be honest with ourselves, not fool ourselves.
I listen to them. Many of my books have grown out of remarks made by my grandchildren or those that my own children made many years ago. Or an incident long ago committed to memory. So many aspects of our lives go into our books.
I am ever-ready to take a child's hand and enter his/her world. And I am grateful to them for I have been profoundly enriched by these journeys.
Shulamith Levey Oppenheim