Vita Murrow

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved being read aloud to from The Wind in the Willows, Rabbit Hill and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I adored picture books by Barbara Cooney like the well-known Miss Rumphius and the lesser known Emma. And the poetry of Shel Silverstein has always connected with my sense of humor.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
What a wonderful question. Perhaps a Sendak character like a wild thing from Where the Wild Things Are or Wendy from Peter Pan. Someone brave and with a bit of mystery.

What is the best thing about reading?
For me the best thing about reading is being in someone else’s head. Hearing another’s voice, interpretation of the world, and considering how their observations, imagination and insights might change me.

What is your all time favourite book?
A favorite book I always go back to, remember poignantly and which I think withstands the test of time is The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I can only hope to write in this genre and with such fine a craft as Raskin.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
As an educator and literacy specialist this question lights my fire. I think the most important thing is quite simply to talk! Ask questions, share stories, grow language like a garden. Talk and sing, play silly word games, do riddles and cross words. These will all model the joy and access language learning can yield.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Very big indeed. My family always valued storytelling and books. From oral tales and jokes at the dinner table to providing books as gifts and to mark special occasions. As a very small child my parents would transcribe my words beneath my drawings, helping to make some of my very first books.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
When my kids were little one of my favourite things was to fill a sheet pan with shaving cream, let them swoosh it around then draw letters, numbers, and sculpt with the fluffy stuff. It was delightful story telling. Now that they read on their own, we love to share books at bedtime, the breakfast table and collect them on our travels. We favor silly books like The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak, comics and graphic novels like those by Gene Luen Yang and books that ask you to find a hidden image like Waldo and books by Britta Teckentrup.

Vita Murrow is an author, artist and educator. Kirkus magazine described her debut children’s title Power to the Princess, an anthology of fairy tales retold with a feminist twist, as “brilliant.” Vita also collaborates on wordless pictures books together with her husband Ethan Murrow. Their book The Whale was nominated for a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal.

Vita earned her MSEd in Education and Teaching Literacy from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, and holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. Vita previously directed a regional school literacy program and served as a teacher in New York City and Seattle.

Vita grew up performing in theatre in her home town of Minneapolis, MN. It was there that she developed her love of imaginative play and great storytelling.

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