I’m sure you’ve seen Curious George, Arthur, or Martha Speaks on PBS Kids? I mean, who hasn’t?! Well, Carol Greenwald is the Senior Executive Producer for those incredible shows–and she’s here today guest posting!
As parents and teachers, we often take for granted the worthwhile, smart programming available for our children today. But it’s people like Carol who work hard to bring these options to families everywhere. Today we get a chance to know Carol Greenwald, WGBH Senior Executive Producer for Curious George, Arthur and Martha Speaks on PBS KIDS. Carol shares her family’s favorite books, what books influenced her family, and how she feels about her work!
About the author: Carol Greenwald’s love of children’s books led her to create some of the best-loved literary adaptations on children’s television. We got the chance to chat with her about the books that made the biggest difference to her as both a mother of two (now grown!) children and as an Emmy Award-winning children’s television producer.
Side bar: New episodes of Martha Speaks premiere this week on PBS KIDS starting Monday, February 21 featuring Martha’s take on opera, theater, classical music, and Greek myths. For a sneak preview, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/PBS#p/search/12/LW5KSrJZ3ZI
- just 1 book: guest post by producer, Carol Greenwald
Here is our Q & A with the amazing Carol Greenwald–
- Does your family love one particular series or author? Why?
Although my kids are grown up now, some of my favorite memories are of us reading together. It was my son who introduced me to Arthur because Arthur’s Tooth was a favorite book of his, and my daughter brought home Martha Speaks from school. As they got older, we would read chapter books together – I remember one vacation in particular when we all passed around a copy of Holes by Louis Sacher, but we all had to promise not to talk about it until everyone had finished reading. It was our own little family book club!
- When your children were growing up, did they ask you to read one particular book over and over and over?
I think all kids get obsessed with one book or another. For me, the real test of a book was whether it didn’t drive me crazy to grant that request to re-read it constantly. That was actually one of the reasons that the books in the Arthur series stood out for me. It was never one of those that I would try to conveniently slip into the couch cushions.
- Can you remember one book that moved you as a child? As a teen? In your work as a producer or as a parent?
My mother was a teacher, an English teacher, in fact, and she was always encouraging us to read. I caught the bug early from her and spent a lot of time (probably a bit too much) reading – The Little House books, Nancy Drew and The Chronicles of Narnia to name a few. But where my mother really influenced me was to encourage me to start reading the classics at a very young age – from Greek myths to Dickens, from The Call of the Wild to Jane Eyre. And those books have staying power – I still go back and re-read them now.
- Has one book inspired your family to try something new, go somewhere new, or think something new?
When our kids were young and we would take a car trip, we would always bring along a chapter book to read in the car. And it’s funny – I think memories of those trips for all of us combine our destination with where the book we were reading took us. For example, one spring vacation we drove from Boston to Washington, DC and had a great time but at the same time we were reading The Trumpeter of Krakow and we all got caught up in the adventures of the main character, a young boy in medieval Poland.
- Have you written, or illustrated, a book that you love so much you want to share it with the world?
I am not a writer or an artist – I’m a reader. And I think I’m one of the luckiest readers ever because I’ve managed to combine my love of books, especially children’s books, with a job that requires me to read all the time – scripts for our programs and new books as I look for new projects to work on. Last year I was asked to contribute an essay to Anita Silvey’s collection Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book. That was a lot of fun but it also reminded me what a very hard job it is to be a writer – and why I’m happy that my job focuses primarily on reading!
- Has one book shaped the way you parent or the work that you do?
I don’t think one book alone has shaped the way I parent, but I do think that there have been many books that have helped my family along the way. Reading a book allows you as a parent to talk about difficult things with your kids in a way that’s sometimes harder to do directly. For example, I remember reading Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles to my children when their grandfather was very ill. Though this book didn’t make us feel any less sad, it did help to start conversations about death and aging in the context of a beautifully told and heartfelt story.
And, of course, my job has constantly been influenced by the wonderful books and authors I have worked with. I’ve learned an enormous amount from Susan Meddaugh, Marc Brown, Jon Sceiszka, and from everyone who is keeping the legacy of H.A. and Margret Rey alive. But there have been other influences as well – In Everything I Need to Know. . (as described above) I wrote about how The Oxcart Man (written by former poet laureate Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney) was pitch perfect in every detail – both the story and the illustrations – and how it inspired me to be sure that we strive for the highest possible quality in all of our children’s programs.
- Are you continually awestruck with the power that one book holds?
Absolutely, and especially when you share that power with a child!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Carol, for taking the time to share your insight about the ways that books have influenced you and your family’s lives! WGBH is so lucky to have you at its helm, continually creating smart programming for our children. Please check out WGBH Kids and WGBH’s Kids Media Matters for information and resources on topics related to media and children.
AND, since we all appreciate the power of public broadcasting, we need to do what we can to let Congress know how we feel about proposals to eliminate funding for public broadcasting: WGBH– Tell Your Senators How You Feel or 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting. Please do it NOW!
Do you want to share a book that moved you? Let me know!
The just 1 book feature gives everyone a chance to share their love of literature and the power of books. Guest writers are invited to share a book that moved him or her: