Welcome to our #WinterRead2022 Read for a Better World Author Spotlight Series! We’re thrilled to be featuring 6 incredibly talented authors from our 2022 sponsor Lerner Publishing Group as a part of our 5th Annual Winter Reading Challenge.
This week, we’ve interviewed Laura Gehl, author of nearly two dozen popular picture books, board books, and early readers, including Who Is A Scientist?, featured in our Winter Reading Challenge. Check out our interview with her below, and learn more about her work here. Follow her on social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
What are you currently reading?
I am always reading several books at once. Right now I am reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, and Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard.
Where is your favorite place to read?
In a beach chair on vacation!
What is your favorite thing you've written? Book or otherwise!
Asking an author to choose a favorite book is like asking a mom to choose a favorite child. I definitely don't have a favorite (and wouldn't admit it if I did!). But I am really excited about three new picture books I have coming out next spring: The Hiking Viking, illustrated by Timothy Banks; Apple & Magnolia, illustrated by Patricia Metola; and Donut, illustrated by Andrea Zuill. I love every one of them for different reasons, and the illustrations in each book are fabulous.
What’s your favorite book by someone other than yourself?
Again, I can't choose a favorite. But one book I love is Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott.
What is your favorite word and why?
I don't have a favorite word, but I enjoy the word "bushwhack" because it sounds exactly like what it means.
How does reading help us create a better world?
Reading is a way for kids (and adults) to develop empathy for, and develop a greater understanding of many different types of people.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? And/or how did you become a writer?
I have always loved writing, and the idea of creating a book always seemed like an amazing and magical thing to do, but it was when my son was born 17 years ago that I first decided to try writing books for kids.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Read a lot, write a lot, find a group of other writers to get feedback from, and don't give up! (Is that cheating? I guess it is 4 pieces of advice in one sentence.)
How does your work encourage conversations around diversity, inclusion, or other social and emotional concepts with parents, educators, and young readers?
My recent picture book Who Is a Scientist? introduces young readers to fourteen scientists who are diverse in a variety of ways. Each scientist is shown in beautiful photos both at work and at play. Seeing a scientist who is Black, a scientist who wears a hijab; a scientist who has full-sleeve tattoos; a scientist who is Indigenous; a scientist who uses forearm crutches to get around; a scientist who is Latinx, etc...and seeing that all of these scientists are real people who love science but also love sports and dancing and playing with pets and eating junk food...helps kids to realize that ANYONE can be a scientist, including them.
I have also written picture books that center around themes of friendship and bravery (The Ninja Club Sleepover); perseverance and determination (Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer); and gender stereotypes and being who you are (Except When They Don't).
Stay tuned for future Lerner author spotlights throughout #WinterRead2022, and encourage your community to keep reading!