Photograph of author Sandra Lanton
It is always a pleasure to find a teacher or retired teacher who is involved in writing quality children’s books. Sandy Lanton is just such an author. She has a very pleasing website to look at with some impressive information. I invite you to get to know Sandy and her books through this interview.
Hi Sandy, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blogs. On your website I was happy to see that you are a teacher by profession and have become involved in writing children’s books. By way of background can you share what age range did you teach?
Sandy: “My degree is in Early Childhood Education. I taught Kindergarten for 2 years, then taught at the local JCC for three years. I started in the after school program and then created their Mommy and Me class. I taught the graduates of Mommy and Me (2 year olds ) Toddler Playgroup (2/12, ) and 3’s and 4’s in the Nursery School.”
2) When did you begin writing?
Sandy: “I was inspired to write while I was teaching nursery school. I was reading to my class and reading to my kids at home. I thought—“I’d love to create books!”
I signed up for a class in writing for children at a local college in the evening.”
3) What inspires you to write and or where do you get your ideas for the theme of each book?
Sandy: “My ideas come from life.
I wrote DADDY’S CHAIR, when my cousin died of cancer at the age of 46 and I couldn’t find anything to read to his 6 year old son. There were plenty of books for his 12 year old and 15 year old, but nothing for young children. I was taking a class with the late Pam Conrad at the time, and she helped with the manuscript.
LOTS OF LATKES was inspired by my writing group, The Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators (LICWI). Instead of the July meeting we always have a gathering in a member’s backyard for a potluck lunch. I thought “WHAT IF everybody brought the same thing. (What if is a great story starter).
THE HAPPY HACKERS started in a screenwriting class at Hofstra. The assignment was to write a monologue for a person talking to somebody who doesn’t respond. One classmate wrote about a woman talking to a photograph, and another had a man speaking to a corpse. As the mother of teenagers at the time, I wrote about a mother trying to wake her son, who had been up all night at his computer. I modeled the main character after my son.
STILL A FAMILY: A YOUNG CHILD’S BOOK ABOUT DIVORCE: was written when my daughter got divorced. My two granddaughters were three and eighteen months old at the time. Again, I searched for appropriate books and came up empty.
THE LITTLEST LEVINE was inspired by my nursery school class. As part of the Passover curriculum, we had to teach the four questions. I was amazed that these tiny children, who couldn’t reach the sink without a stepstool, or tie their shoelaces, could memorize the four questions and recite them beautifully. The idea mulled around for years and the manuscript went through many revisions until KAR BEN published it in 2014.”
4) Are your books self-published or published through a recognized publishing company? Can you tell the reader how you found the publishing process and why you chose either self-publishing or to find a publishing company?
Sandy: “Three of my books were published by KAR-BEN, (DADDY’S CHAIR, LOTS OF LATKES, and THE LITTLEST LEVINE) one by an educational publisher, Wendy Pye, (THE HAPPY HACKERS) and one was self-published (STILL A FAMILY). When KarBen took DADDY’S CHAIR our of print in 1999, I got together with the illustrator, Shelly Haas, and we reprinted it because we both felt it was an important book. I self-published STILL A FAMILY because I got tired of collecting rejection slips from publishers who said either “well-written, but we don’t want to touch the subject” or “well written, but we have one in the works”. Again, I felt the topic was too important to let the manuscript languish in a drawer.”
5) I have only seen the covers of your books, but the illustrations seem to be gentle and beautiful. Can you share anything about finding a suitable illustrator for your book and how it feels to have your writing in book form, complete with illustrations?
Sandy: “Part of the editor’s job is to play “matchmaker” for the author and illustrator. I was pleased with all of them except THE HAPPY HACKERS. I had described a messy teen’s room and the cover illustration shows a single piece of paper on the floor instead of the laundry all over the room and socks hanging from the light fixture as I had described in the text. Since I self-published STILL A FAMILY, I was able to select the illustrator and have input into the finished product.”
6) Which of your books is your favourite and why?
Sandy: “That’s like asking a mother which child she likes best!”
7) Through your experience as both a teacher and an author of children’s books, what message can you share with the reader about the importance of reading to children and enabling children to read? If you are able to add, do you have a preference to children reading books or eBooks and why?
Sandy: “I think reading to young children (starting in infancy) is the best thing a parent and grandparent can do for a child’s intellectual and emotional development. I know that e books are popular, but I still love the feel of a book and having a child on your lap while turning the pages together is heavenly.”
Thank you Sandy, it has been a pleasure getting to know you and your books. Can you share with the reader where are your books available?