Gravitybread presents Olive Senior

Olive Senior

I am happy to present the author of Anna Carries Water, Olive Senior. I really enjoyed the book, Anna Carries Water because it can teach our children about different cultures, customs and appreciation for the most basic things that many children and adults take for granted. To check out my review and sample questions to ask your children when reading Anna Carries Water, click here. Olive shares her background and knowledge of the culture behind this book and I think many people can benefit from reading her responses below which I find inspiring.

Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica and Canada. She is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes. Her work in recording and disseminating the cultural heritage of Jamaica was honoured in 2003 with the Norman Washington Manley Foundation Award for Excellence and in 2004 with the Gold Medal of the Institute of Jamaica. She is also the recipient of the Centenary Medal and the Silver Medal of the Institute of Jamaica for contributions to literature. She was named Humanities Scholar 2005 by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. She is also the recipient of Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council works in progress grants. To learn more information about Olive Senior and the other books that she has written, click here. To check out Olive’s website, click here.

1. What inspired you to write Anna Carries Water? The idea that learning is not just about school or play. For poor children, it is also about learning to help the family with tasks such as looking after animals, caring for smaller children, searching for firewood – or carrying water. I grew up in rural Jamaica with children and adults carrying water on their heads. It’s not an easy task to master. Like all tasks, success comes with practice. I wanted to write about a small child acquiring this skill.

Anna Carries Water

2. What would you like children to learn from your book, Anna Carries Water? First, I hope children will enjoy this story and the beautiful illustrations by Laura James and fall in love with Anna and her world. Then, I would like young readers to imagine what it would be like if they couldn’t get water by turning on a tap. To imagine every day going to find water and carrying it home. Because that is what millions of children in the world have to do. The children in Anna Carries Water feel good because they know what they are doing is important even though it is hard work. Finally, I wanted to show how small children learn from older ones and what a triumph it is when they master new skills. I like your suggestion that readers try to see what it is like to carry something balanced on their heads (no hands!)

3. How has your background as a professional writer and teacher influence your writing? It is hard for me to answer this question because it seems I have been a writer all my life and my becoming a “professional” writer and writing teacher have evolved over time. I like to think that over the years the practice of writing and of teaching has taught me to be more mindful of craft. But my choices of what I write about and how, still spring – as did my earliest writing – from an inner urge that impels me to tell a particular story. And to tell it my way.

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