Shelf Life: Bonnie Grubman on the Value of Picture Books

Bonnie Grubman finds endless enthusiasm in writing for children. “I love kids, and I’ve always loved picture books,” she said. “I think they are the most important books written.” 

Before moving to Long Island, and before becoming an author, Grubman grew up in Queens. She was an avid reader, citing E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web as one of her childhood favorites. “It was not unusual to find me on my fire escape immersed in picture books, mesmerized by the illustrator’s interpretation of a crescent moon,” she said.

As an adult, Grubman continued to read books for all ages before finding inspiration to write a picture book of her own. Something sparked one afternoon while she worked beside a little girl named Chelsea. Grubman found that Chelsea kept getting distracted, so she told the child to keep an eye on her paper. “Little Chelsea did just that,” Grubman said. “She picked up the paper and put it on her eye. Right then and there I knew I had to write stories for children.”

Five picture books in, and with three more slated for publication, Grubman’s work continues to evolve. “I think my stories have gotten shorter, or ‘tighter,’ as they say in the industry,” said the author. She now aims to balance her writing between heartfelt, funny, silly, and serious. “A writer doesn’t find her voice overnight; it is developed.” 

Refining her voice has proven rewarding. In 2016, Grubman became a PJ Library author. This program mails free Jewish children’s books to their members each month. Grubman’s book OY VEY! Life In a Shoe was one such book. “About 25,000 copies—at one time—of OY VEY! were delivered to Jewish children around the world,” said Grubman. She is, “so, so proud,” of this accomplishment.  

Grubman hopes her books spark that same passion she had for stories as a child. “As a writer, my goal is to preserve the magic of childhood,” Grubman said, “and to foster the love and reading and writing.” She hopes when her readers finish a story, “they want to read it over and over again.”

More about Grubman, her books, and events can be found on her websiteInstagram, and Twitter.

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