Kate Waters - Children's Book Author


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About Kate Waters

I grew up in a very large family. My three younger brothers and two younger sisters and I were, are still are, very close. The two most important things in my life were books and our dress-up box. Books gave me privacy. The first time I heard my mother say, "Shh. Leave Katie alone. She’s reading," I realized that reading would not only take me to other worlds and into other lives, it would also give me some peace and quiet for a few minutes!

Our dress-up box was filled with lacy dresses, fancy hats, old ties and coats, and pieces of cloth that we made into turbans and masks and capes. We had enough children in our family to put on plays with many characters. The six Waters children spent a lot of time making up stories about people who lived in other times and places.

My mother read to us every day. She made the magic worlds of Narnia and
The Borrowers come alive. We were also often packed up for outings to New England mountains or to the ocean. I learned about storytelling from my father who explained the constellations, the causes of fog, how sap changes into maple syrup, and what a starfish is.

I started writing stories and poems and keeping a diary in second grade. I think that it helps all writers to keep track of the questions and the wonderings they have, and to experiment with words.

In high school, I acted in quite a few plays and played field hockey. In college, I studied the medieval world, especially early poetry about knights and ladies and monsters. After college, I decided to go to graduate school to become a librarian. I was following the example of my great-aunt Esther who worked at the New York Public Library.

I was a children’s and young adult librarian at the Boston Public Library for ten years. I learned what books people like to read and what kinds of pictures people like to look at in books. I loved acting out books with children during story hours and giving book talks to get people excited about my favorite books.

Eventually, I moved to New York City. What a wonderful, exciting place to live! At first, I worked on a children’s magazine. I began thinking about a new way to celebrate Thanksgiving. I remembered visiting Plimoth Plantation when I lived in Boston and suggested that we take pictures there. That is how my first book,
Sarah Morton’s Day, began. The photographs let people see what life was like for those first Europeans who settled in New England.

I have written five books about the pilgrim times working with Russ Kendall who is an excellent photographer and a good friend. Russ lives in Washington state. We have also done a book with Colonial Williamsburg, called
Mary Geddy’s Day. It takes place 150 years after Sarah Morton’s Day. If you look at both books, you can see how much life changed for the European colonists.

I have also written books about other parts of history:
The Story of the White House and The Mysterious Horseman, and one about the way Chinese New Year is celebrated in New York City called Lion Dancer.

I love to read and to travel and I spend a lot of time at the ocean in the warm weather. My twelve nieces and nephews are very important people in my life. They help me with hugs, sharing stories and trips, and being pen-pals.

I love writing. It combines the things that were so important to me growing up – storytelling, and immersing myself in another time and place. I learn about writing from reading, reading, reading and practice, practice, practice.

--- Kate Waters


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