Aimee Reid is an author with a background in education and editing. She taught high school English, Music, and Special Education before she began to work full-time as a writer.
As a child, Aimee was a voracious reader and could often be found—curled in a corner, tucked in the crook of a tree limb, or crouched by a book rack in the grocery store aisle—carried away to the world of a book.
Now Aimee sends her own stories out into the world. It brings her great joy to think of other children nestled on a lap or cuddled on a couch reading good books to share.
Q & A with Aimee Reid
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
I most often find that my imagination is sparked by something in my ordinary life that I experience in a new way. Suddenly, I feel a flash of excitement and recognize the potential for a story. I’ll give some examples.
My first picture book began in response to a comment from my daughter. She was about two-and-a-half years old, and I was tucking her into bed. We were talking about our plans for the next day, and she said, “When I grow up and you grow down . . .” and went on to talk about the fun things we’d do together if she were the mother and I were her child. I thought, That feels like a story! It became the idea for my book Mama’s Day with Little Gray, which Random House published.
Another of my books, First Morning Sun (Simon & Schuster), is about the milestones that a child experiences in the first few years of life. The words for that book began coming to me after visiting a writer friend in Florida. We went swimming in the ocean water, and I enjoyed splashing in the waves. I remembered being small and standing at the edge of a lake. Into my mind popped the words, “First rolling wave / first feeling brave.”
Seeing my baby son and his dad cuddling gave me the idea for my book Animal Snuggles (Sourcebooks), which is coming out in November 2023.
Sometimes a part of the text just pops into my head. That’s what happened with the book A World of Love (Random Penguin House, 2024). I heard the line, “If all the world were forests green and you were in the nest . . .” and it became the beginning of a rhyming book that shows all kinds of ways animal parents care for their children.
I just never know when inspiration will arrive! I keep a notebook handy wherever I am so that when a story idea pops up, I’m ready to capture it.
What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?
As a young child, I loved the Beginner Books series from Random House. These included The Cat in the Hat, Are You My Mother?, The Best Nest, and Go, Dog, Go! My family read these books over and over again. That’s how I learned to read for myself. It was fun for me to have my first book published by Random House.
As I grew, I read all kinds of books. Some of my favorites were those that gave me a peek into lives that were different from mine. One of the books I enjoyed was Come Over to My House. I still have it! It showed children from all over the world in their interesting homes. Repeated lines were, “Come over to my house. Come over and play!” I loved the friendly tone of the book and imagined visiting Venice where boats travelled on streets of water.
That idea of cross-culture friendship comes up in a book of mine (currently being illustrated) called Friends (Simon & Schuster). It shows two children who meet at school and who become friends even though they can’t speak one another’s languages.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned about my writing process is that my brain is working even when I’m not aware of it. The time I spend at my keyboard is only a small part of writing books. I also need to feed my soul with good experiences, enjoy quiet time, and let my mind wander. Sometimes my best creative work happens when I’m swinging in a hammock or floating on water.
What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?
A challenge I have faced is perfectionism. If I try to write a “perfect” book, I might stop myself before I even get started! I can’t let myself worry about having a book that everyone will like or I would never be brave enough to send a manuscript to my literary agent. Even when my agent loves my book, we might not find an editor who wants to publish it right then. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book! There are many reasons why editors might not be able to take a manuscript at their publishing houses.
I have to focus on what I can control, which is writing the best, most emotionally true book I can. Then I can be proud of my work even if it never becomes a book that others can find on a shelf.
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
Read, read, read. Read what you love. Read something different from what you normally read.
Think about the books you read, by which I mean, think like a writer. Ask yourself which parts of the books were especially effective. What made you sit on the edge of your seat with excitement or feel empathy for the characters? Then see if you can figure out how the writer made you feel what you did.
Play with your writing. Let yourself try things that no one else will see. Also, if you can, find friends who will read your writing and give you honest comments.
Most of all, take joy in your writing! You are the only you in the world. Let who you are shine through in your work.