The icon indicates free access to the linked research on JSTOR.

“I try to write from the heart. A good children’s book is a book of promise. And promises are meant to be kept.”

JSTOR Daily Membership AdJSTOR Daily Membership Ad

The beloved and prolific children’s literature author Avi was born on December 23, 1937. Over the course of his long career has written over 70 books for children and young adults, winning the Newbery Medal for Crispin: the Cross of Lead. Avi is notable for his willingness to continue to play with genre in a publishing climate that increasingly pushes authors (particularly children’s authors) to compartmentalize.

And yet, as this 1987 interview points out, even early in his career Avi was experimenting with comedies, mysteries, historical fiction, and more. Why? “The mundane answer is that it’s boring to write the same kind of book over and over again…The real answer is, I’m moody!”

The interviewer also asked how Avi managed to write so much while working as a librarian and being a father. Avi’s response will ring true for busy creative types everywhere: “Because I was working full time and was so involved with my children, if I was going to write, I didn’t have time or the energy to debate whether I was going to do it. Either I was or I was not, and I did. I have never debated that issue. To be a writer was my commitment to myself and to the world…I taught myself to snatch an hour here and there. I tell students that if you write only one page a day, by the end of the year you have a 365 page manuscript.”

And finally, he shares his view of the world. “One is hopeful. To be anything else but hopeful is to sink into some levels of despair. Hope is always an act of faith. Young people are the beautiful people of the world. They move me. They hold the promises that we have.”

This interview is full of gems about the writing life, including the story about how Avi went from struggling student to accomplished writer, how he felt in 1987 about the introduction of the word processor, and the cute origins of his mononymous pseudonym. Download the PDF for free here!


JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. JSTOR Daily readers can access the original research behind our articles for free on JSTOR.

Journal of Reading, Vol. 30, No. 8 (May, 1987), pp. 738-742
Wiley on behalf of the International Literacy Association