Journeying through Children’s Literature with Raven Howell

Explore Raven Howell’s captivating journey crafting over twenty picture books, infusing themes of friendship, nature, and self-discovery with rhythmic charm and timeless wisdom.

Step into the enchanting literary world of Raven Howell, where storytelling becomes a gateway to inspire and delight young readers. With a career spanning over three decades and encompassing more than twenty picture books, Raven’s journey reflects a deep-seated passion for nurturing creativity and imagination in children. Her diverse background, including influences from the music industry and crafting verses for greeting cards, imbues her writing with a rhythmic cadence and a keen sense of simplicity that captivates audiences of all ages.

Raven’s commitment to children’s literature extends beyond writing; she actively engages with the community through columns, advisory roles, and contributions to children’s magazines and educational platforms. Themes of self-esteem, friendship, and the marvels of the natural world permeate her work, resonating deeply with young audiences. Drawing inspiration from her surroundings and personal experiences, Raven infuses her stories with warmth, wisdom, and a timeless charm that encourages children to explore their own creativity and embrace the beauty around them.

Throughout her career, Raven has garnered recognition for her contributions to children’s literature, receiving accolades such as the Mom’s Choice Award and the NYC Big Book Award. Her dedication to fostering literacy and a love for reading among children is evident in every word she writes and every story she shares. Join us as we delve into Raven Howell’s captivating world of storytelling—a realm where imagination takes flight, and dreams find their voice in the hearts of young readers everywhere.

With over 20 children’s books to your name, your career is both prolific and impactful. What initially inspired you to write for children, and how has your motivation evolved over the years?

Writing full time for children the past 3 decades has never gotten old. I still experience the whimsy and wonderment of my youth through words. Being a creative person from childhood- writing, playing an instrument, or drawing, was simply what happened, how I naturally embodied my days.

My motivation for writing has certainly evolved over the years. I spend much more time, energy and focus on inspiring children to read, to love themselves and consider the beauty in the world around us and with each other.

You have a diverse background, including a stint in the music industry and writing for greeting cards. How have these experiences influenced your approach to writing children’s poetry and stories?

Writing a song is similar to writing a children’s poem. Both need a rhythm, a possible rhyme, and a good beat for it to be engaging.

Often, the verse I wrote for greeting cards could easily be a couple of lines gleaned from a children’s book. The same rules apply– take out unnecessary words, make sure it connects with the reader and keep it simple, implementing your own unique style to make a lasting impact.

A Star Full of Sky was written entirely under the night sky. Can you share more about how nature and your surroundings inspire your creative process and the themes in your work?

I’ve always been enamoured by the way of nature – rainbows, an animal’s instinctive “knowingness”, the face in a pansy, the sparkle of snowfall. It’s a magical treasure chest! I’m always drawn to exploring it, looking at it from enchanting angles and then taking on the challenge of putting that into words.

You mention that your father, a published poet, was a significant influence on your writing. How did his teachings shape your style, and what other lessons from him do you carry into your work today?

I imagine that through seeing him in action, where he was writing for long stretches of time, or jotting down ideas, participating in book events – that gave me the ease and natural inclination to just fall into it myself since that was where my own interests have always been.

My father was known for his deep, resonant voice during poetry performances. I learned a lot about spoken word and the impact it has on an audience through him. To this day, that helps me when I share Story Time with a group of children.

Your books often tackle important themes such as self-esteem, fitting in, and making friends, as seen in A Colorful Beginning and Friends Come in All Sizes. What draws you to these themes, and how do you ensure they resonate with young readers?

Since my own kids are grown, I stay in touch with the children’s community from my author visits to schools, children’s book events, and library story time. It’s important to do that because as the years pass, the generations have different needs and interests. That’s just the way of it. So I’ve found the themes of self-esteem, fitting in and making friends is a prominent one currently. And how do I ensure they resonate with young readers? I can usually tell when and if the books sell, and good reviews come in!

As someone passionate about children’s literacy and poetry, what advice would you give to aspiring children’s authors and poets? How can they make their work both engaging and meaningful for young audiences?

It’s important to develop your own style. Even if you’re writing for children in lesser-known periodicals or writing teaching units for a publisher, write it your way. That in itself, will make it engaging and meaningful. Find out what a child these days finds fascinating. Make sure you know the age range you’re writing for. And remember, the more you write, the better you’ll become. Trust me. And for goodness’ sake, if it’s what you love to do, just do it. Should doors not open for you today, try again tomorrow. You’ll get to where you need to be.

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