Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Pam Muñoz Ryan - December 25

Happy Birthday, Pam Muñoz Ryan - December 25

Would we ever celebrate an author or illustrator whose birthday is on Christmas Day?

There was no snow on Christmas
Eve this year in Ohio.
Over the years I have asked myself this question. I guess it was a fair question to ask, since author, Pam Muñoz Ryan, whose birthday is on Christmas Day, has often been asked whether or not she celebrates her own birthday on December 25th.

She said, "I was born on Christmas Day. As a child, all of my birthday cakes were thematic, often with plastic reindeer and a Santa, or a sheet cake with white frosting and red and green piping. All of my life people have asked me, 'Do you really celebrate your birthday on Christmas Day? Or do you do that thing where you celebrate six months later?' Of course I celebrate on Christmas Day! It feels special to me. When I was a preschooler, my uncles told me that the reason people put up all the colored lights in December was for my birthday. And I believed them, until a mean-spirited first grader told me otherwise." (School Library Journal, 2010).

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the author of over ten picture books including Tony Baloney and Mice and Beans. She has also written many chapter books including Riding Freedom and Echo. After starting her career as a bilingual Head Start teacher, Pam Muñoz Ryan spent twelve years at home caring for her four children. During that time, she went back to school to earn a master's degree in Post-Secondary Education. After class one day, her professor asked if she had ever done professional writing. (Scholastic). Pam had not since she was busy raising her family, finishing her master's degree, and was back working as an administrator of a early childhood program. However, Pam "couldn't stop thinking" about what her professor said. She described the encouraging words as "a seed that couldn't stop growing."

A few weeks later a colleague asked for her assistance in writing a book for adults and she jumped at the chance to start writing. Pam Muñoz Ryan spoke with PaperTigers about her first book, A Family is a Circle of People Who Love You (1988), "I co-authored that book, but from the onset of that project I knew I wanted to do a spin-off for young children."

In 1994, she published the spin-off, One Hundred is a Family, which was her first book for children. Then, she followed up this picture book with many more including a pair of books illustrated by Diane DeGroat, A Pinky is a Baby Mouse and Armadillos Live in Dugouts. In 2002, she was awarded the Pura Belpré Medal for her chapter book Esperanza Rising. She won the award again in 2011 for The Dreamer. Her latest book is an early reader, Tony Baloney: Pen Pal published in June 2015.

Our family reading experience to celebrate Pam Muñoz Ryan's birthday was inspired by Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride, a book I wanted to read ever since we celebrated Brian Selznick's birthday in July. (We were so busy with Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret that we did have a chance to read it.) Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride is based on actual event of Amelia Earhart and first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt spontaneously going for a night flight over Washington D.C.

Pam Muñoz Ryan explains how the book came to be in this short video clip from Reading Rockets.

I read Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride and I knew it was a book all of my children would enjoy. I just needed a cool place to read it to them. I googled "Amelia Earhart, Cleveland, Ohio" and I found that the International Women's Air and Space Museum was located at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.
The International Women's Air and Space Museum was less than an hour from our house and had FREE admission! Thankfully, the whole family was able to go since it was Winter Break!
Inside the museum we found a few Amelia Earhart artifacts. 
After viewing the rest of the museum we looked for the perfect place to read Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride.
We found a few comfy chairs at the front of the museum.
I love reading books to these kids!
Christmas trees were nearby as we read the book.
The perfect book for wide range of readers.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog post during the busy holiday season. We wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

1. Pam Muñoz Ryan's Website
2. Video Interview - Reading Rockets, Scholastic, 5 Questions with Pam Muñoz Ryan (YouTube), Teaching Books
3. Text Interview - Publishers Weekly (2015), School Library Journal (2015),  PaperTigers, The Unjournal of Children's Literature, The Horn Book (2015)
4. THE DREAMER Discussion Guide - Scholastic

Birthday Source: Pam Muñoz Ryan's Website

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