Sarah Gershman is the author of BEDTIME SH’MA (EKS publishing, illustrated by Kristina Swarner), a lovely child-friendly adaptation of traditional prayers that gives children a sense of peace and comfort before drifting off to sleep. BEDTIME SH’MA was honored with the Sydney Taylor Book Award for 2007, which Sarah will be accepting this June at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference. I had the opportunity to hear Sarah talk about BEDTIME SH’MA at the Jewish Book Council event last year. After watching her lovely presentation, I knew BEDTIME SH’MA was destined to become a favorite of parents and children.
Among her many accomplishments, Sarah is a Jewish educator at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. She produced the award-winning Shabbat Songbook, AIN SOF. Sarah is also the author and producer of the musical, NOTES IN A DIFFERENT KEY, which featured a 35-person intergenerational cast and was performed at the Thalia Theater in Manhattan. Most importantly, Sarah is the mother of Matan, 3, and Josie Fay, 9 months.
I’m delighted Sarah was available to share her thoughts about being a writer.
How did the idea for Bedtime Sh’ma come about?
I always thought the Bedtime Sh’ma was a beautiful prayer, and I also have had dreams for a long time of writing a children’s book. One day I put the two together and realized that the prayer would make a wonderful children’s goodnight book. I also was searching for a Jewish book to read my son before bed and decided to write one myself.
What was your reaction when you found out you had won the Sydney Taylor Book Award?
I was thrilled! Truthfully, I had really heard of the award, although the All of a Kind Family series was my favorite as a little girl. I feel incredibly lucky that my first book actually received this award!
What is the best part about being a children’s writer?
I get to write books for my own children.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a good morning companion book. I find that mornings can be such stressful times. I am trying to adapt from the morning prayers to create a book that will help children and their parents peacefully and purposefully start each day. Thankfully, Kristina Swarner will again be the illustrator.
What is your favorite holiday?
Yom Kippur. I know it’s strange, but I love that day. I think the prayers and melodies are just beautiful – and it is the only fast day where I don’t miss eating. It feels right somehow. I look forward to it each year.
What are some fun facts about you?
I am a public speaking trainer. I love American Idol. A few years ago fulfilled another life-long dream and played Maria in the Sound of Music. I have a wonderful husband named Daniel, a 3-year old son, Matan, and a 1-year old daughter, Josie Fay. I have had two audiences with the Dalai Lama.
Sarah, thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on all your success!