An Interview with Award-Winning Author, Deborah Hopkinson
As a writer, how have teachers influenced your career and writing?
My teachers, from elementary through high school, were always supportive of me. I did far more reading than writing, and didn’t actually begin trying to write my own stories until my daughter was about three.
But I loved to read. And I read just about anything. I do remember in middle school displeasing one teacher because (for some reason I can’t recall), I didn’t particularly like Treasure Island and wrote a negative book report. I was rewarded with a “B” rather than the usual “A.” I may have redeemed myself by being the only student who not only finished, but even liked Ivanhoe (today I suspect my views on both books would be different).
Ivanhoe had a rather unexpected effect on my life. In our version the spelling of the character, Rebecca, was Rebekah, which seemed to me the most beautiful name in the world. I vowed that if I ever had a daughter I would name her Rebekah. Luckily, I married a man who agreed with me.
A Letter to My Teacher is dedicated to Rebekah, a Waldorf school teacher and the mother of a beautiful baby boy. Although his parents did not name him in honor of Oliver Twist, a book I also read in middle school, you can bet Oliver will get his own copy someday.
This is such a touching story about a challenging student looking back at the impact one teacher had on her. Do you think teachers realize how important and influential they can be?
I hope teachers do realize it. I was at a school in North Carolina at which parents purchased a copy of A Letter to My Teacher for each teacher. The books will be presented on Teacher Appreciation Day, and all the students will sign their names too. I can imagine that is a gift that will be treasured for a long time.
We’re also doing a social media giveaway around A Letter to My Teacher, to encourage people on Twitter and Instagram to share stories, thank you letters, and photos of favorite teachers. Anyone who wants to participate can use the hashtag #DearTeacherContest and on May 2, Teacher Appreciation Day, I’ll announce ten favorites and give folks a signed copy – for themselves or that teacher.
About Deborah Hopkinson
Deborah Hopkinson is the award-winning author of more than 45 books for young readers including picture books, historical fiction, and nonfiction. She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for picture book text twice, for Apples to Oregon and A Band of Angels. Other titles include Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, winner of the IRA Award; and Sky Boys, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book.
Deborah’s nonfiction includes Titanic, Voices from the Disaster, which received a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor and a Robert F. Sibert Honor and Dive! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific. Her nonfiction picture book, Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole, won an Oregon Book Award.