It was an honor to interview author and therapist Merriam Saunders about her latest book. Perhaps more powerful than Saunders’ extensive credentials in psychotherapy is her ability to craft a tender story that allows children to feel seen and valued.
My Wandering Dreaming Mind follows Sadie, a creative spirit who struggles to pay attention at home and school. With the help of strips of paper and a jar, she comes to embrace her wandering, dreaming mind for all that it offers. This is a book I so desperately wish I had when I was in the classroom, and not just for my students with a diagnosed attention disorder. It helps all students cultivate understanding and compassion around what it is like to struggle with focus. The back matter is an especially critical resource for parents and caregivers with information on ADHD, self-esteem and orienting children towards the positives.
If you’re looking for ways to support your local bookstore and celebrate this meaningful story:
- Find your favorite indie bookstore online
- Snag a copy of My Wandering Dreaming Mind
- Share the love!
Thank you, Merriam, for sharing your expertise in a way that respects and affirms all kids.
What inspired this story?
My mother! My first picture book, MY WHIRLING, TWIRLING MOTOR, features a hyperactive little boy whose parents share with him all the wonderful things he does all day at bedtime— instead of focusing on all the trouble he gets into. My mother suggested I write a version featuring a little girl and voila! Always listen to your mother.
I believe your book is a must-read book for all children, not just those with attentional issues. As a mom and educator, it gave me a better understanding of the lived experience of children with attention deficit disorders. From that understanding comes compassion. What do you hope children take away from this story?
Oh, so much!! Children who struggle with differences often feel alone, feel they are bad or at least that everyone else thinks they’re bad. My hope is that those children understand that many kids struggle with similar issues and that we all have both challenges and strengths. I hope it helps them to focus on their strengths and to create self-compassion for their areas of challenge. For children who might not share the struggles of my characters, I hope it helps pave the road to empathy and understanding for others.
A meaningful moment in your journey of bringing this book to life?
The first book I wrote about a character with ADHD is actually a middle grade novel that releases next year—TROUBLE WITH A TINY T (Capstone). This book paved the road for my two published picture books, because that manuscript found my awesome agent who right away understood the importance of the message and the need in the market for these stories. Finding her was probably the most meaningful moment in the journey.
I knew I wanted to be a writer when…
I took my first breath? LOL. I was a big reader as a child and at age 10, I developed a regular pen-pal friendship with a middle grade author, Carolyn Sheehan. Her letters were instrumental in cultivating my dream of authoring one day. Then a few years ago, a friend wrote a novel which inspired me to try it. I was hooked!
Valued writing habit or quirk?
I try to write every day. I will usually read the tail end of what I wrote yesterday to ground myself, and then just plow ahead. I also read a lot, but not just for pleasure–I read to analyze how others craft their prose.
Words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
I’m sorry to say it, but what you write is probably never as good as your mother thinks it is! Hone your talent, read a lot of craft books, surround yourself with writers, take their feedback, go to workshops and read, read, read in your genre–get better and don’t give up. It may take a lot longer than you want, but use that time to improve while your dream unfolds and keep writing!
So many! J.R. Tolkein, Stephen King, Isabelle Allende and Tom Robbins. My favorite kid authors are Rebecca Stead, Rainbow Rowell, Katherine Applegate, Jandy Nelson, Kate DiCamillo, Sharon Creech and Lauren Wolk.
3 words that speak to your current state of mind?
Grateful, Optimistic and a wee bit Tired
What is giving you hope today?
My children. They were a rascally bunch growing up, but they have developed into such caring, funny, thoughtful humans. If there are a few more like them out there, then there is much hope.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am one of the luckiest people alive to be able to invent stories that talented folks illustrate and publishers want to print. Sharing my words with the world is a privilege that I appreciate every day. I hope those words bring light, support and joy to others.
My Wandering Dreaming Mind is published by Magination Press and launched on April 14, 2020