Meet the Author: Laura Krauss Melmed

Photos: Courtesy of Laura Krauss Melmed

Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I’m the author of twenty fiction and non-fiction books for children including two New York Times bestsellers. My books have won many awards, such as the National Jewish Book Award, the ALA Notable Award, and the Parent’s Choice Award. I have an M. Ed. in early childhood education and have been a kindergarten teacher. For many years I’ve been a volunteer reading tutor in the DC public schools, helping kids discover the magic of books.

I grew up in a big apartment house in New York City. I thank my mom for seeding my passion for books from early on through bedtime read-alouds and regular visits to the library. As for my dad, with his nose always stuck in a book he set an example for me to follow. When I grew old enough to get my own library card, I would regularly stagger back home from the Forest Hills branch toting tottering armloads of books. My reading habit has served me well through many life stages and situations including this pandemic!

As an only child I often spent time drawing and writing stories and plays. I would corral my friends into taking part in a performance under my direction (and usually starring me)! We’d sometimes invite our parents to watch up on the roof, one of our summer hangouts.

What inspired you to become an author?

Even before having kids, I bought beautiful picture books or checked them out of the library. Flash forward to tucking in my son, Jonathan (now himself an elementary school teacher) when he was about age seven. Jon was a deep thinker even at that age. He also had a difficult time settling down at night. Our goodnight rituals would stretch on as my husband or I sang to him, read to him and tried to answer the parade of questions conjured by our curious child. One night Jon asked me, “What was the first song ever sung?” A poem I wrote to answer this fascinating question became the first manuscript I sold. The First Song Ever Sung is illustrated by Ed Young and of course, it is dedicated to Jonathan.

Since then I’ve published original fairy tales like The Rainbabies, lullaby books like I Love You as Much, alphabet books like Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z, and New York! New York! and more. Moishe’s Miracle and Eight winter nights are celebrations of Hanukkah. I’ve been privileged to have some very wonderful illustrators.

Many of my books explore the bond between parent and child. My most recent title, Daddy, Me, and the Magic Hour features a little boy and his father taking a summer walk together at dusk.

Where and when do you write?

There’s a room at the top of my house that was a sort of sanctuary when my three kids were at home and is still a cozy place to write. As soon as the weather allows, I switch to a table on our screened-in porch where birdsong helps me think.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

I’ve never written a novel but a picture book manuscript takes me anywhere from a few moths to a year. As to when I write, I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be.

What authors can we find in your library?

Two Jewish themed-books I’ve read recently and loved are The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, and Memories of Eden, by Violet Shamash. For general fiction, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. For nonfiction, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and All That She Carried by Tiya Miles. Calling temptingly from my bookshelf are a middle grade novel by Kate DiCamillo and a young adult book by Donna Barba Higuera. And oh, I forgot to mention, I love graphic novels, too.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Hone your craft by joining a writer’s group or writing class. Read, read, read as many book as possible in your chosen genre, to learn what works. Revising is a vital part of the writing process. I often put away a first draft for a few days so I can read it with fresh eyes.

For children’s authors, join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators. They publish valuable resources for aspiring authors and hold conferences where you can have your work professionally critiqued and meet an editor. Get to know your local children’s librarian and bookstore owner. They are fonts of knowledge and will invite you for a reading when your book is published!

Where can our readers purchase your books?

They are available wherever books are sold.

On which platform can our readers contact you?

They can contact me at my website,

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