Author sparks kids' curiosity

November 19, 1997

Author sparks kids' curiosity


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A second-grader asked Pam Munoz Ryan which of her books she likes best.

"The one I'm working on at the time," said the author of more than a dozen books, mostly for children.

Ryan, 45, spent time in Franklin County this week speaking to school children about her books. She began writing professionally about 13 years ago after leaving a job as a school administrator in her native California.

She lives north of San Diego with her husband and four teenage children.

On Tuesday she spoke to students in grades kindergarten through four in Greencastle. She also spoke to parents and addressed students in Waynesboro during her visit.


Most of her books are highly illustrated 32-page editions with a theme and aimed at specific age groups.

The students read her books in class and did related projects to prepare for her visit, said Donna Haldeman, who coordinated Ryan's visit for the Parent-Teacher Organization.

Kindergartners through second-graders read "The Crayon Counting Book," which teaches counting by using crayons as illustrations.

Ryan was greeted by a wall full of paper crayons made by the students and signed with their names.

"Pam really has a heart for little children," Haldeman said as Ryan was holding court in front of 200 very attentive youngsters who were taking part in some serious dialogue with the author and bombarding her with questions.

"Do you like being an author?" asked one student.

"It's a lot of work but I like spending time by myself, at the library or reading," Ryan said.

"Where do you get ideas from?" asked another.

"It's very fun to come up with ideas for my books and it's fun to write them, but when I'm writing and rewriting for the 23rd time, then it becomes work," she said.

"How long does it take to write a book?" queried another.

"About three to six months, but I don't write every day all day. From the time I get an idea to having it accepted, then rewriting it for my editors, takes about a year," she said.

"Second-graders always have a lot to say. They've done a lot of work preparing for this," Haldeman said.

Last year Haldeman brought Ralph Masiello, an illustrator of children's books, including Ryan's, to speak to the students. The two collaborated on "The Flag We Love," a book of patriotic verses on the history of the flag that Ryan used in her talk to third-graders.

"I thought it would be great to piggyback them by bringing Pam this year. A lot of the older children remembered Masiello and connected the two. I also wanted a woman author so the girls would have a female role model," Haldeman said.

Ryan said she spends nearly four months a year on the road in the spring and fall speaking to students, parents and teachers.

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