One of my most treasured parts of being a mom is bedtime, and not because it means that our house will become quiet after our girls fall asleep. It’s because that is the time when our girls are most relaxed and content as we snuggle up together and talk about the big topics of the day. Like many families, this time is often when my husband and I will get the biggest giggles out of them, and also the hardest questions. And, it’s when we get to enjoy precious minutes of quiet time where we sit close together and share stories. Even though our girls are ten and six and are reading on their own now, I don’t think we’ll ever stop reading them a story at bedtime, it’s something we all hold dear to our hearts as part of the fabric of our family.
One of our family’s most beloved bedtime books is I Took the Moon for a Walk. This poetically charming story about a boy out and about exploring nature as the moon follows along in his journey works beautifully with the soft illustrations. It’s a book that has stood the test of time through many years of bedtime stories for our family, and many others around the world. It was recently named one of the top 100 Greatest Books for Kids by a popular parenting magazine.
Today I’m pleased to share with you an interview with the author, Carolyn Curtis. I hope you enjoy hearing from her and learning about her connection with the natural world and how that influences her as a mom.
Why do you think it’s important that children and families connect with nature?
I love it when Lucan tromps around in the woods with his buddies. They’re exploring, creating, pretending, moving, learning, discovering. They’re developing skills, strengthening friendships, listening to their own voices.
Nature allows us to think. Whether we’re sitting by our backyard blueberry bush watching the birds come and go, or struggling to walk against the wind on a winter beach, somehow connecting with the outdoors helps us connect with what is inside us.
Nature lets us see the patterns and helps us understand that there is a Plan. I feel a little jolt when I see that the seeds inside a milkweed pod are layered just like the scales on the Monarch’s wings. When I learn that our Moon and Sun are perfectly distanced from one another so they can create a total solar eclipse. When I hear that both our bodies and the Earth are 70% water. I believe it was Robert Frost who said something like “a good poem reminds you of things you forgot you knew.” I think nature is filled with poetry that reminds us of who we are.
Nature helps us keeps things in perspective. It’s kind of a relief to realize that maybe we aren’t the center of the universe after all!
The material world is full of marvelous things that we have created, but the natural world created us. We need to treasure and spend time with our family.
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
I confess! – I’m no athlete! My relationship with the outdoors is quiet. I like to sit or walk with nature. I’m not a conqueror; I’m much more an observer. The natural world inspires most of my poetry. My family and I keep a milkweed garden; we raise and release Monarch butterflies. We all love walking on the beach – at night, of course! We like walking with our dogs. And we all love to watch (my son) Lucan play baseball – which is not so quiet, since it involves a lot of cheering!
What do you do when you’re not writing or taking walks to look for the moon?
Daydream, hang out with my family, play word and trivia games. I love to make up crazy songs with Lucan and go to his school and sporting events. My family will laugh if I don’t add “watch TV”! I work part-time as an inclusion aid at our high school, and I put in a lot of hours volunteering with the PTO at Lucan’s elementary school. I also love to do author visits at schools, libraries, and bookstores. It’s so much fun to talk with children about reading and writing, and to hear their thoughts about Moon.
You’ve worked at an animal hospital, as a nanny, and at a parenting organization; it seems you love to help living beings of all types. If you could have your dream job, what would it be?
I’ve wanted to be so many things over the years…a veterinarian, a minister, a forest ranger, a teacher…. Well, I’m about to lose my altruistic reputation! If I could choose just one of the dreams that got away, it would be…Ta da! A Broadway musical star! However, I have to say that being a mom and an author are dreams come true. I think I always process the world through a writer’s eye, even when I’m not writing.
What’s been the biggest surprise having to do with your book?
I think it’s the entire journey. Moon seems like the “Little Engine That Could.” Born of a mistake (a divine whisper?), the manuscript found the perfect publishing home (with Barefoot Books) when so many other wonderful stories go unpublished. Its handful of words inspired breathtaking illustrations and two gorgeous songs. It has traveled around the world. It has allowed me to make a small difference in my lifetime, to give back something good and lasting.
Moon was a quiet book that arrived without much fanfare, and almost 8 years later it is on a list of 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Parent and Child magazine. I can only watch, like a proud parent, and wonder where it will go next.
Your son is nearing the teenage years, advice for parents…?
Oh, I’m quite sure I’ll be seeking out lots of advice myself! I’m hoping that we’ll all remember to laugh and listen as best we can. And we’ll look forward to the day when the storms have passed and the Moon is smiling over us once again.
What’s your family’s favorite bedtime story?
About Leah Lesser
As the mom of two book-loving daughters and the Communications Director at Barefoot Books, my favorite thing to do is to share stories with my family. One of my earliest memories as a child is snuggling up in bed with my dad reading an hilarious story about a turtle and a duck. Throughout high school I worked as the page in the children's room of my small town library and loved interacting with all of the patrons, from the teeniest ones who could barely yet hold open a book, to the grandparents who would come in and spend literally hours searching for their favorite stories from childhood to share with their grandchildren. In college I was most often found in the library surrounded by books and when I needed a break from text books I would turn to the latest issue of the New York Times, the Styles section and Business sections were, and still are, my favorites. I've spent nearly 20 years helping emerging companies launch their brands through local, national and global media strategies and I'm thrilled to have landed at Barefoot Books (http://www.barefootbooks.com), a children's publisher that has always been near and dear to my heart and those of my own children. My favorite Barefoot book? A close tie between The Prince's Bedtime and I Took the Moon for a Walk. My children's? Magic Hoofbeats (for my 10 year old equestrian) and Lola's Fandango (for my 6 year old dancer.)