May 17, 2013

Yesterday I visited a terrific bunch of kids at Lower Gwynedd Elementary School in Ambler Pennsylvania. Afterward, I received a lovely thank you note from Rachel N. Rachel wrote:

You have visited my school, Lower Gwynedd. I enjoyed your visiting and all of your books. I really hope that you will visit us next time again. Have a nice day!


Thank you, Rachel, for this lovely note. Then, I started to receive letters like these two:

Hi, it’s Margaret.

I have a question to ask you.

What is your passion about writing?

your fan,



Hi. I’m Shawn from Lower Gwynedd Elementary.  I was really fascinated by your presentation today!!  I wanted to tell you a few questions.  One is what inspired you to be an author.  Two is how do you get the ideas for all of your books?  And three is what is your favorite subject to write about?   Thanks for reading this BYE!!                 

From: Shawn

Both Margaret and Shawn are asking about my life as a writer - how I got started, how I decide what to write about, and why I continue to want to write (my "passion" for writing).

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. I have always loved writing, and started doing it when I was in second grade. Mostly, in those early days, I was writing because I wanted to get my friends excited about the things I was interested in, like planets and space.

When I got a little older, 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.

I get the ideas for my books from observing and reading about the world around me. 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.

I don’t think I can say that I have a favorite subject to write about. I simply write books about things that I find interesting and exciting. 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."

And that brings me to Margaret’s question about my passion for writing. I suppose I love to write because I love to learn, and I get excited about sharing what I am learning with others. Although being an author is my job, it has never felt like "work." As long as kids like you guys enjoy reading my books, I’m going to keep writing them!


Editor’s Note: Seymour Simon cannot respond personally to every letter that he receives (or he would never have time to write books!). However, he has created a section on his website called FAQs, which stands for "Frequently Asked Questions." Readers can find the answers to virtually all their questions by looking at the FAQ section on


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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