“Children ask me, ‘What’s the best thing I can do to become a writer?’ My response is, ‘Daydream every day and read often. Read lots of different types of things so you will know what you like and don’t like. If you’re interested in a subject or idea, be curious, ask questions, and pay attention so you can soak in all the little details.'”
Pam Muñoz Ryan grew up in Bakersfield, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. Her home was a smorgasbord of cultural diversity including grandparents from Aguascalientes, Mexico, who migrated to the United States. Pam wrote about her grandmother’s journey in her best-selling book, Esperanza Rising (Scholastic). And on her father’s side of the family, her Portuguese-speaking Basque grandfather traveled to California from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. When spending time at one grandparent’s home, Pam and her sisters spoke Spanish and ate tortillas, beans, enchiladas, red molé, and lamb. When with the other, they enjoyed black-eyed peas, fried okra, biscuits and gravy, and smothered greens.
Young Pam spent much of her time at the public library. It was her favorite hangout because it was air-conditioned and a great place to escape the 105-degree summer heat. There she became hooked on reading and found that a good book could let her become anything she wanted to be and go anywhere she wanted to go.
Pam received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Diego State University. She worked as a bilingual teacher and an early childhood administrator before dedicating herself to writing full-time. Her career began with the publication of “food-for-thought” books for adults, but she knew from the start that she really wanted to create books for children. Now an award-winning author, she has written many picture books for young children and novels for young adults. She often visits schools and conferences to speak about writing and literacy.
Pam lives in Leucadia, California. Visit Pam online.