Sherri Duskey Rinker saw her first picture book, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, rise from the infamous “slush pile” to the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, where it has stayed for more than 100 weeks. She’s inspired by her two energetic, inquisitive sons, one fascinated by bugs and magic, and the other by trucks and trains. Formerly the owner of a graphic design agency, she now devotes herself full time to writing books and visiting schools. She lives with her family in Chicago, Illinois.
Sherri will visit Fairytale Town for this year’s ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival the weekend of September 28 and 29, where she’ll present her latest #1 bestseller, Steam Train, Dream Train, and sign copies of her books.
Both of your books are “goodnight” stories. When you started working on your books, did you set out to write bedtime stories?
My fondest memories of reading as a child were at bedtime, cuddled up with my grandmother. When I became a mom, bedtime was the time for settling in and cuddling up with my own kids and reading, so I think that writing books specifically for that time was a pretty natural fit for me. And, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site was inspired specifically because my youngest son had a tireless (literally!) love of trucks, and I felt the need to give him a bedtime story that spoke to his truck passions and, yet, was soothing.
What was your favorite book to read as a child?
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton. I still love that story and, interestingly, I feel like it’s evolved into an analogy for my own life: I was always lured by excitement and city life as I was growing up and as a young adult, and now I’m content to enjoy the peaceful pace of a quieter life—and I’m more appreciative of the simpler things.
What’s your earliest reading memory?
My grandmother had a big stack of books by the bed at her house, and I’d pick which one(s) we’d read together. I sentimentally still remember the smell of those books, the smell and feel of the soft sheets and blankets, the smell of my grandmother’s Camay soap, the cozy feeling of being cuddled up and having all of her attention, the sound of the ticking alarm clock in the background and titles like Be Nice To Spiders and Harry The Dirty Dog.
As a mother of two, do you have any words of wisdom for fellow parents who want to inspire and encourage their children to read?
Read to your kids—and read everything: picture books when they are smaller, chapter books as they grow older. Grab a cup of coffee at night after dinner so that you’re awake and present to enjoy this really special time with them.
If you could be any fairytale character, who would you be? Why?
This is such an interesting question. I guess I’ll say this: Anyone who gets to live “happily ever after!” That’s a copout, right? Ok, if you make me pick, I guess I’ll have to go with Cinderella: I really like shoes!