Meet the author: Andrea Beaty
Andrea Beaty is the author of a series of books about curious classmates; Architect Iggy, Scientist Ada and Engineer Rosie. Illustrated by the Scottish illustrator, David Roberts, the books tell the stories of hopelessly curious children who overcome hurdles to pursue their passions.
What was your experience of books when you were growing up?
I was raised in a tiny town in a house filled with books. They were all used books, picked up here and there at rummages and yard sales, but they were our treasures. We went weekly to the library and brought home more books to savour. Living in a house of books taught me to value knowledge and that there was always an escape from my everyday world.
What are your memories of science in primary (elementary) school?
I didn’t have any actual science, at least that I can remember, until I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was a small, rural school and we didn’t get 'fancy' like that. I did, however, spend all of my summers outside investigating nature. We also had public television – TV taught me about the scientific universe.
How important a role do you think science should play in a child’s first years of education? Do you think it should be a priority?
I have never understood the need to break science education away from art, history, music, maths, languages, and play. We live in a universe in which all of those things interact with and affect each other constantly. Why should it be any different in school, and even before? The biggest thing we can do to encourage more interest in STEM is to start long before kids get to school. That can happen better when we help adults understand that science is not about answers, but about questions. Then, every adult can realise that they and their kids are already scientific teams and get to the fun bit of asking questions and figuring things out!
What are the key messages that you want to get across in your books?
Passion, curiosity, persistence, love, joy. The basics!
How important is it to encourage curiosity in children?
We don’t need to encourage curiosity in kids. They have it by the bucketful. We need to teach ourselves not to discourage curiosity in kids. And, we need to join in the fun of discovery. Stop filling in the answers and celebrate the questions.
The three characters have the same teacher. What can a teacher do to inspire children in STEM?
Teachers, like parents and all gatekeepers, can set the example of being curious and celebrate that in themselves. Let kids see you keep a question list. Or, create a thinking board like Ada Twist’s parents did. Write down questions when they come up and think of ways to explore answers. Kids are mimics and they will pick up on that. Also, let kids know that you read books for pleasure. Make that a conversation.
Where did you get the ideas for the main characters in your books? Is there a real-life Iggy, Ada or Rosie?
Iggy was based on my son who loves to build things. The other characters developed from the illustrations David Roberts created in Iggy Peck, Architect. I find clues in the illustrations and riddle out the stories.
What can you tell us about working with David Roberts?
He is the most generous and gracious person I know and his dedication to helping every child see themselves in a story comes through with every scene he illustrates.
Two of your main characters are female. What message would you give to all the girls in Primary School?
It’s the same thing I would tell every kid: Try new things and figure out what you love. Work hard at that and follow your passions. You never know where life will take you so always be thinking and asking questions. And always be kind! Life is better when we all treat each other kindly.
Tell us about your latest books and the Rosie Revere musical!
This autumn, we are beginning a chapter book series based on the characters. They will collectively be called The Questioneers. Each book is led by one of the characters, but they all join in the fun. I’m very excited to expand this world for kids who are now venturing into reading by themselves. It’s such a fun time.
The musical about Rosie Revere, Engineer (and her friends) is being produced in the US and Canada by TheaterWorksUSA. It’s a fun, short show that lets each of the kids do their thing! I don’t know if they will travel to the UK or Europe, but that would be amazing.
What are your plans for the future?
Write. Write. Write. Write.
Were your class captivated by Rosie's story? Andrea's got lots of fun downloadables to take the fun even further! You could also watch American Astronaut Kate Rubins reading Rosie Revere on the International Space Station with Story Time from Space!