Interview: Children's Author- Maryann Sawka

What age range is your book for?

A: My book has been published as a children’s book, but as the title indicates, it includes quick tips for all ages. The illustrations are geared for children as they exemplify the passages being discussed on each page.

Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were within the age range of your target readers?

A: I’m pretty sure as a child I read everything that Judy Bloom wrote including Freckle Juice, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Are you there God, it’s me Margaret.  I also remember being a fan of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  Both were very popular when I was in grade school.  I remember that I enjoyed the stories very much, which helped me to develop such a strong love of reading.  I would usually finish one book and ask my parents if I could get another when we went shopping or ask if we could visit our library right away because I needed another book!

How has life changed for children today than when you were that age?

A: I think when I was a child our culture was different in that most families didn’t have both parents working outside of the home.  Usually one parent was home with the children while the other left the home to go to an outside job.  When the parent who worked outside of the home returned at the end of their workday, families typically sat down together to a home-cooked meal and enjoyed the company of one another.  Conversation included sharing stories from everyone’s day, current events and similar topics. 

Today, it is not unusual for the family dynamic to not include two parents living in the same household or to have both parents working outside of the home.  With that in mind, the nightly family-dinner of the past is not always a daily occurrence.  Our emphasis is not always placed on family conversation and sharing our days with one another.  More often, we eat our dinners at a drive-thru while driving from one activity to another.  Our culture is more “on-the-go” today than in the past.

How is life still the same?

A: Our children still need our time, love and attention.  Because of our rushed society, they probably need us now more than ever.  They need us to teach them proper manners and etiquette.  We need to look at this instruction as a gift that we are giving to them that helps them to grow and develop a strong character.  It is a gift that will carryover into other areas of their lives including school, extra-curricular activities, relationships at home and behavior in public, to name a few.

Our sharing of good manners does not need to be boring or stuffy.  My book exemplifies good manners using a fun, lively approach with tips that are demonstrated in the accompanying illustrations.  The tips are straight-forward, short and easy to implement.

What was your favorite toy or activity when you were that age?

A: When I was a child, I loved to read and play outside. I used to ride my bike with friends in the neighborhood, play jacks on our front porch and play hide and seek at dusk with friends. I remember being able to play outside all day, coming in for lunch and dinner.  Being a child then was fun!  Kids have a lot of pressure put on them today.

What inspired this book and how did you decide on this age range for your book?

A: I was inspired to write this book because I value good manners.  Teaching my own children to use good table manners has been a fun activity and I would like to share it with others.  Learning manners at a young age allows a child to develop a strong character that will continue to flourish as they continue to grow and mature.

Finally, I have four kids. Over the years, they’ve attended a lot of birthday parties. I love the idea of building a theme gift around a book. If you were to give a gift basket to a child based on your book, what else would be in the basket besides (your book’s title)?

A: If the gift recipient were a girl, I would envision my book in a basket with some snacks, fancy gloves and a tea party set.  I love to throw tea parties for my daughters and their friends.  This is a great opportunity to teach manners in a fun way.

If the gift recipient were a boy, I would envision my book in a basket with some snacks, juice boxes and maybe a card game or matchbox cars.  The theme could be built around enjoying a snack with friends, encouraging appropriate play and conversation.

What a fun idea!  I like the idea of including a book in a gift basket for children!


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