'Why I write for children', by author Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Published on: 14 August 2019 Author: Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Rashmi Sirdeshpande thinks she's finally found her "thing" – after all, what could be more satisfying than writing to inspire and excite children, the future grown-ups in our society?
I write for children because they’re so curious, so full of wonder, so hungry for more. They’re also full of hope and we need that more than anything in today’s world.
Writing for children is like speaking across generations, saying, ‘Hey, here are some things I think are amazing and I can’t wait to share them with you. What do you find amazing? What do you believe? What moves you and what makes you smile?’.
Writing THAT book, for THAT reader
Picture books are a child’s first experience of reading, a gateway into a lifelong journey. It’s where they fall in love with books. I want to meet them right there at that magical entry point. I want to write that book. And children’s books have an enduring quality. You never forget the books you loved as a child. You may forget the words or even some of the pictures but you don’t forget the way they made you feel.
Just after I got through to the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme, I visited a friend whose son is obsessed with reading. He was so excited when he found out I was writing a book. I write for him. I write for readers like him. And I write for readers who haven’t fallen in love with books yet – the ones that haven’t quite found the right one. That reaction when they do – that’s everything.
Imagine writing that book. Imagine writing the one that moves them, makes them laugh, sparks questions. Imagine having that kind of impact. That WOW when they discover something new. This is why I write.
Often, that WOW moment is a shared one between a child reader or listener and a grown-up who cares about them. It’s so precious. To be able to contribute to that is humbling and uplifting.
But it’s not all about the words…
The clue is in the name: picture books. I love writing them because there’s something so wonderful about putting words and pictures together to tell a story. It’s a kind of alchemy.
The way it works is this: I write the words and illustrators brings them to life with their artwork (with some wizardry from the editor and designer). I’ve been paired with some fantastic ones. You’ll have seen Annabel Tempest’s beautiful artwork in How To Be Extraordinary and I can’t wait for the world to see what Diane Ewen has created for our bonkers story If You Show A T-Rex a Book (out in Spring 2020).
I’m very lucky to be working with the best publishing teams on books I really believe in. My non-fiction debut, How To Be Extraordinary, covers the true stories of 15 incredible humans.
They’re people from all kinds of fields and from all over the world – people who followed their passions and persevered against all the odds. With only 15 spreads, there’s so much we had to leave out. But we worked hard to make sure there’s something in there for everyone.
I believe all books should reflect the society we live in but with non-fiction, there’s a special responsibility to be inclusive and representative. We deal in facts, in truth. If a reader can’t find themselves and the things that matter to them inbetween those pages, what does it tell them about their place in the world? I write so I can do the best job I can for all readers – and that’s true across fiction and non-fiction.
I write for the reader but, selfishly, I also write for me. I write to learn. I write to do something in this increasingly challenging world. I’ve been searching for such a long time for my "Thing", my way of making a difference. I finally think I’ve found it in writing for children.