How long have you been writing? Are you still writing children’s books?
I began writing books for more than 40 years ago, while I was still a middle school science teacher. I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300! And yes, I am still writing - I love it! Take a look at the New Books section on my website to see what I have been up to recently.

How many books have you written, and which is your favorite?
I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300!
I can never say which is my favorite book - it is like a parent picking his favorite child. Generally, whatever book I am working on at the moment is my "favorite," because I get caught up in how fascinating each topic is.

Did your family encourage you to be an author? What did it feel like when you published your first book?
No one in particular encouraged me to be an author. I don’t think it ever occurred to anyone in my family that you could actually make a living as a writer. They were very proud of me once I became an author, though! My early books, like "Animals in Field and Laboratory: Science Projects in Animal Behavior,” were based on all the work I had been doing with my eighth and ninth grade science classes for years. When my first book was published I felt just like you all do when you’ve done something that you are really proud of, and can’t wait to show it to your parents. I wrote a dedication in it to my mother and took it straight over to show to her.

How many awards have you won and which are you most proud of?
I have been fortunate to receive a lot of awards - I guess that is what happens if you keep writing long enough! I honestly don’t know how many at this point. I think my favorite was from the city of Boston, a small brass sculpture by Nancy Schön, the same artist who did the famous "Make Way for Ducklings" statue in the pond at the Boston Commons. That was very cool. I have also had more than 75 of my books recognized by the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) as "Best Science Trade Books K-12," which is a great honor.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I have written more than 250 books. Many kids ask me how long it takes to write a book, and I always answer this way. Abraham Lincoln (who was very tall), was constantly asked: “How tall are you, Mr. President?” And he would always answer: “Just tall enough for my feet to reach the ground.” So, I would answer you by saying, it takes just long enough to finish the book. It also depends on what you mean by “write the book.” I have to study and do the research before I write a book, and often I’ve been reading about the subject for many years.

How long have you been writing children’s books?
I’ve been writing children’s books for a long time. I started in 1968, when I was still teaching science in a New York City Middle School.

What was the first book you ever wrote?
The first book that I wrote was called SPACE MONSTERS, and I wrote it when I was in the second grade! It’s true. My teacher stapled it together like a real book, and had me read it to the class. Many years later, when I was an adult author, a publisher actually paid me to write it again as a ‘real’ book, so I did. It was about monsters, aliens, and other creatures found in science fiction movies, TV and books. I really loved those kinds of stories when I was a kid!

Why were you interested in aliens in the second grade?
When I was growing up there were great science fiction comics with names like AMAZING STORIES and STARTLING STORIES. Some of America’s most famous science fiction authors like Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars) were first published in these magazines. I read them from cover to cover, and when I was a little kid I was sure that there really were aliens living on Mars!

What inspired you to write all these interesting non-fiction books?
I have loved nature since I was a young child. Although I grew up in the Bronx – a very crowded part of New York City – the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

What made you start writing children’s books?
I read a book called THE SEA AROUND US, by Rachel Carson. She is a wonderful writer, I absolutely loved the book, and by the time I finished it, I had realized that I wanted to write about the natural world. I started writing for children because that is where my area of expertise was – I was a middle school science teacher for many years.

How do you know about all these things?
Whenever I want to write about a subject, I need to study. I start by looking at research that other people have done. What experiments have they run? What animals have they observed? By studying all the work that others have already done, I learn about the subjects that I write about in my books. As the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

I like to write books, just like you did in elementary school. Every time I start a book I want to start a new one with a complete new idea. How do you stick to one book topic at a time?
I’m so glad to receive a letter like yours from a fellow writer! I think that writers begin their life as a writer when they are young, just like you. It’s important to keep writing as much as you can. I’ve written many books and usually work on several books at the same time. I do research on a number of topics and write about one of them. I think you might like to do the same. Work on a new topic for each book, but keep the ideas for future books always coming. Stick with the one story that you’re working on till you are finished. Finishing a book is always much harder than starting a new book.

What was your favorite part about teaching Science?
That is a good question. My favorite part is actually teaching - I love working with smart, interesting kids and exploring subjects together. It doesn’t even have to be Science. I also taught Social Studies, English and Creative Writing while I was a teacher. Whatever the subject, I just loved being a teacher!

You were a science teacher for more than 20 years, and you’ve remarked that teaching is the best possible way to learn how to write for kids. Can you offer some examples of what your students have taught you?

I’m still a teacher and still a student too, for that matter. Students’ interests range widely and deeply. They want to be treated with respect and have their questions answered and have you pay attention to their comments. There is a famous story that explains my writing, too. The story goes that there is a teacher who is teaching a difficult subject and he can see by the expression on his student’s faces that they don’t understand what he is teaching. So he teaches it a second time and he can see that they still don’t understand what he is teaching. So he teaches it a third time and finally…HE understand what he is teaching. That’s how it goes with me. When I finally get it right, finally I understand what I’m writing and teaching.

Which is the longest book you ever wrote?

I wrote a Science Dictionary which has over 2,000 entries and hundreds of illustrations. It’s available online on my website and will be available again soon as a printed book.

Where do you go to get all these photographs?
I am asked this a lot because there are so many photographs in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii, wildfires in California and weather in my backyard. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. Often these are specialists - like a scientist who has been living in Antarctica and observing penguin behavior. Someone like that has photographs that I could never get in a single, short trip.

How do you (and other photographers) get those great pictures of snakes and other dangerous creatures without getting hurt?
They are amazing photographs, aren’t they?! Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often and for very long stretches of time, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film.
These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This also keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

What is your favorite animal?
I can’t tell you my favorite animal because then the other animals would attack me!

You have written a lot of books about sharks. Why do you like to write about them?
Who isn’t interested in sharks? The powerful, threatening sight of a shark’s triangular fin moving through the ocean is enough to scare me and most other people right out of the water. But are all sharks really dangerous or is JAWS just a scary movie but not really factual? That’s why I wrote about sharks: To separate shark facts from shark fiction.

What is the strongest and most dangerous cat in the world?
It is hard to say which of the big cats is the most dangerous. However, the Siberian Tiger is the world’s strongest feline. It is also the biggest feline.

Is it true that you once kept ants in your refrigerator?

I did indeed. It was a jar full of ants that I had collected that I wanted to put in a visible ant nest that I had made for my science class. The problem was that the ants I had collected were running around too quickly for me to get them into the narrow opening of the ant nest. So I put jar of ants in the refrigerator for a few hours to slow the ants down. After I took the ants out of the refrigerator I had about 5 to 10 minutes to get them into the ant nest — one by one!

Do you have pets?
I had two cats, named Newty (after the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton) and Mittens (I bet you can guess why we named him that!). I also used to have a dog, an English springer spaniel named Nova, but she died a few years ago. I would love to have another dog, but I travel so much, it doesn’t seem fair to the dog. These days I am keeping tropical fish, and have four different tanks going. I love planting my aquariums with aquatic (underwater living) plants, and can spend hours watching schooling fish, a pair of catfish playing with each other, egg layers tending their eggs, the new babies seeking shelter from the bigger fish by swimming inside driftwo0d or the leaves of plants.

What kind of dog would be a good family dog?
Almost any dog could potentially be a good family dog - it all depends on what your family is like, where you live, how you like to spend your time, etc. I wrote about this on my blog last year, and I think the article would be useful as you and your family consider this question. Click on this link to see the article, which is called: "Getting a Puppy. Six Things to Know Before you Buy."
It is really fun to have a dog, but it is a big responsibility. Make sure you are really ready to care for a friend for life - because that’s what your dog will be!


If there is Global Warming, then why is it so cold and snowy?
Another word for global warming is “climate change,” and that is really what we are experiencing now. We are seeing weather extremes - huge snowfalls in places that normally don’t get much snow at all, deadly heat waves, and unprecedented flooding in places like Pakistan and Australia. We don’t know enough to blame manmade pollution and the greenhouse effect for directly causing any single, specific weather disaster, but we are certainly seeing an escalating pattern of climate extremes that are most likely part of a change in Earth’s climate, caused by global warming.

How is it that we get both extreme drought and extreme precipitation, even huge amounts of snow, when temperatures are increasing? The reasons that droughts are getting worse is pretty obvious for areas that generally have little rainfall - when the temperature gets hotter, drought conditions get even worse. But extreme rain and snow? The water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7% for every 1°C rise in temperature. Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapor stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events.

Why is it important to save the rainforests?
There are many reasons that rainforests are an important part of our entire ecosystem, first and foremost because they are the “lungs” of planet Earth. The trees clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide (a bad greenhouse gas) and turning it into oxygen.

Second, more than three-quarters of the animal and plant species on Earth live in tropical rainforests – so they are critical habitats.

Also, we get many everyday products – foods like chocolate, sugar, bananas, cinnamon and vanilla; products like rubber and medicinal herbs – from the rainforest.

Last (though not least), more than half of the world’s rain falls on rainforests, and they recycle the rain into clean water that we drink and use to irrigate crops. Here’s how it works: Rain falls in the forest. Plants and their roots capture the water in the soil and gradually release it into the air, where it evaporates, forms clouds, and eventually falls as rain.

For all these reasons it is very important to protect our rainforests!


How many stars are there in the Universe?

No one knows exactly how many stars there are in the Universe. But we do know there are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on our entire Planet Earth!

If we are the only life in the universe, does that mean we are aliens?
First of all, no one knows whether we are the "only (intelligent) life in the universe." In fact, given the vast size of the universe and how little of it we have been capable of exploring so far, I would guess that it is unlikely that we are the only intelligent life. I suppose, if we were eventually to meet other creatures, that they might see us as "aliens." It is always interesting to look at what we know from the other point of view, isn’t it?

I want to write my “whole” address. How do I do it?
Your name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Planet Earth
Milky Way Galaxy
The Universe ∞

Why was Mars your favorite planet when you were a kid?
When I was in elementary school I was fascinated by space monsters, and figured that space monsters or aliens would certainly come from Mars! Of course, we eventually learned for certain that there are no aliens on Mars (we haven’t found even microscopic life there, as yet) when NASA sent the Mars rover, a robot exploring device, to the surface of Mars in 2004. You can learn more about the Mars mission on this Cornell University site written especially for kids.

Have you ever visited Mars?

Only in my dreams! No human has ever gone to Mars (and I’m human). Perhaps in the future, humans may visit the Red Planet.

Which is the biggest planet?
The biggest planet by far is Jupiter, which we call a "gas giant," since it consists mostly of swirling gases. The big red dot that you see on Jupiter is actually a big storm, and 4 entire planet Earths could fit inside just that dot. That tells you a little about how big Jupiter is!

I love space, just like you. Where can I learn more?
I am so pleased to know that we are all space lovers! NASA has some wonderful images and information on its website that I think you will enjoy (make sure you have permission from an adult to go on the Internet). There is an extraordinary gallery of photographs of space, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, at There is also a whole student section on the NASA site, at


I thought I was supposed to be able to make a paper airplane on your website. But I can’t find it.
You can learn how to fold a paper airplane on my website. You may want to ask a grownup to help you, and here is what you can show them about where to find it:

  • Up at the top, under the yellow bar, hold your mouse over the box that says KIDS. A menu will drop down, and you should click on FREE STUFF.
  • Click on the picture of my Paper Airplane book (it is green and yellow).
  • On the next page, click the green button that says DOWNLOAD. In a few seconds, a pattern for a paper airplane will download on your computer.

Where do I find the video of someone flying a paper airplane out of a skyscraper window, just like you did?
Go to this link on my blog: But remember: it is very dangerous to go near an open window. You should never, ever try to do this yourself. Be safe, please.


How did you come up with the Einstein Anderson: Science Geek series?
I used to teach science at a New York City middle school. Every year, at the end of the term, I would write up a short science mystery and ask my kids if they could solve it. When a student solved it, I would name that kid “EINSTEIN FOR THE DAY.” These stories eventually became the basis for the Einstein Anderson series.

Why is his name “Einstein”?
If you are talking about the great Nobel Prize winning scientist Albert Einstein, his last name is Einstein because his parents were named Hermann and Pauline Einstein. If you are talking about my fictional science detective Einstein Anderson, his nickname is “Einstein.” The character’s real name is Adam Anderson, but his friends call him Einstein because he is so good at science.

By the way, did you know that you can download a free chapter from one of my Einstein Anderson books? Go to: and click the green button that says "Download." You will not only get a free story, you can also download some fun projects and experiments that you can do at school or at home.


Can you please come to my school?

I wish I could visit every school that has my books, but that’s not really possible. Your teacher could request a Skype Session - that is a way that I can see more kids, especially ones like you, who are serious about education and love my books.

You were awesome. When can you come back?
Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, I usually visit each school only once. Your teacher could request a Skype Session, though, and then we could discuss a special project or topic that your class is working on.

Can you Skype with me?
Unfortunately, I cannot Skype with individual students. Only teachers or librarian/media specialists can arrange for me to Skype with a class or group of students.


Do you have a family?
Yes, I do have a family. My first wife, Joyce Shanock Simon, died in 2007. We all still miss her very much. I was very lucky to meet my current wife, Liz Nealon, a few years ago. She is a children’s media producer and writer who works with me on my website and digital books. One of her photographs is in my upcoming book, BUTTERFLIES. My two sons are both grown - one is a television director, and one is a college professor, in Computer Sciences. My stepdaughter recently graduated from college, where she studied Literature and History, and now she is working at a children’s publishing company! And I have four grandchildren whom I try to visit as often as I can.

What is your favorite color?
Since I was a kid I have had two favorite colors, and they are both the colors of nature. One is almost indescribable – the warm, pumpkin-like, mix of orange colors that you see in autumn. My other favorite color is the deep purple that you sometimes see in sunset clouds.

When were you born?
My birthday is August 9. You can read more about my birthday and see a picture of me as a little kid on the Happy Birthday Author blog.

Religious beliefs:
Religious beliefs are a private matter and I don’t discuss them in my books or on my website. I write books about science, not about religion.


I was told that you have free Teacher Guides for all your books, but when I click on the "Educators and Families" link, there is nothing there.

You must become a member of his website in order to access the free supplementary documents that are available. Membership is free and we protect your privacy (see Privacy Policy here); we require membership simply to ensure that children (big users of the website) are not accessing an area intended for their teachers.

In order to become a member, simply open up in your web browser, and click on "Sign Up" in the top right-hand corner of the homepage. Enjoy!

I tried to sign up to become a member of your site, but it says I am not registered.
When you sign up to become a member of, the form asks for your email address, and we send you a confirmation email, to which you must respond before becoming a member. Check your email and your spam folder to be sure you didn’t miss your confirmation email. If you haven’t received a confirmation, it is possible that you mis-entered your email address, so that we can’t find you to confirm your membership. Try signing up again, and type in your email address carefully and accurately.

I haven’t received a confirmation email, so my membership is not activated.
Some educators have this problem, and so do students writing from school district emails, because the confirmation email from is blocked by the school district’s firewall. If you are experiencing this problem, we would suggest that you sign up from a different (personal) email address.

I would like to add a comment on the Seymour Science blog, but I don’t know how to do it.
I love it when kids read stories on the Seymour Science blog and tell me what they think about them. Click here to read a post about how to comment on the blog, to help you get started.


While I am grateful and flattered that many college students choose me as the subject of their author studies, I unfortunately get more of these kinds of requests than I can possibly respond to. In addition, many of you write asking basic questions that you can find the answers to if you do even a minimum of research. I can’t write your papers for you.
So, I need to ask you to do your own basic research. Many of the answers to the questions you are asking me can be found in the "About Seymour Simon" section on my website. There is a lot of information there; check the "Press" section under that header, as well, for even more primary resources for your paper. I have also written quite extensively on my blog about writing and becoming a writer, under the labels "Writing" and "Becoming a Writer." You can also read the articles under the blog label Author Study.


Why don’t you provide more access features, like By access features i mean Table of Contents, Chapter titles, Glossaries, Sidebars, Inserted Information, Bibliographies, Author’s notes, in your books?
I write stories for children that happen to be non-fiction. I don’t write textbooks, or encyclopedias, I’m telling stories. This often-raised question is a reflection, I think, of a general misunderstanding of children’s non-fiction. Stories can be either true or fictional (I often joke: what if literature was broken into "true" and "not true"? See what I mean?).
No one asks my friend Lois Lowry why she doesn’t have a glossary in NUMBER THE STARS, which is historical fiction. We didn’t expect Maurice Sendak to put a table of contents at the beginning of one of his stories.
That said, I do appreciate the fact that many educators use my nonfiction storybooks in the classroom. In that context, of course, they will need to provide additional resources and additional context - just as they would if they were using Lois Lowry’s book as part of a Social Studies unit.

How do you become an expert in the subjects that you write about? (long answer)

I suppose that whatever expertise I have as a writer is the result of a lifetime of study, which continues to this day.

I have loved nature since I was a young child. Although I grew up in the Bronx – a very crowded part of New York City – the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

As a teenager, I attended the Bronx High School of Science, and was elected President of a national organization called The Junior Astronomy Club, where I had my own key and access to a basement office in the American Museum of Natural History – quite a thrill for a sixteen-year-old.

I studied Science at the City College of New York, and did my Masters work there as well, in Comparative Psychology, which is the study of Animal Behavior.

Since I write for children, I learned a great deal of what I need to know to be a successful writer through teaching science for 23 years. My early books, like "Animals in Field and Laboratories,” or “Pets in a Jar” were based on all the work I had been doing with my eighth and ninth grade science classes for years.

And of course, whenever I want to write about a subject, I need to study. I start by looking at research that other people have done. What experiments have they run? What animals have they observed? By studying all the work that others have already done, I learn about the subjects that I write about in my books. As the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”