Posted by: nancyisanders | April 22, 2008

Author Interview: Anita C. Prieto

Featured Book:
B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet
by Anita C. Prieto
Illustrated by Renee Graef
Sleeping Bear Press, 2005

From the earliest clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia to today’s most sophisticated computer databases, throughout history people have wanted to collect, preserve, and share knowledge and information. B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet is a guided A-Z tour through the institution called the “library,” including its earliest forms, systems and practices, famous booklovers and librarians, and even definitions of basic book components. Whether in a school, a city building, or even on a boat, this “place” we call the library, along with the people who work there, has broadened worlds, opened doors of discovery, and fired imaginations of countless individuals.

Meet Author Anita C. Prieto!

I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and now reside in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. I received an undergraduate degree at LSU (Baton Rouge, LA) and an M.Ed. in Educational Administration also at LSU. My Doctorate in Educational Administration and Special Education was completed at the University of New Orleans.

I spent my professional career (33 years) serving in the Orleans Parish Public School System. I worked as a classroom teacher (6th grade), a Television Teacher, a Supervisor, a Principal (25 years), and an Acting Area Superintendent. As a teacher on television, I researched, wrote, planned visuals for, and presented on camera two middle-grade series: “Space, Rockets, and Missiles” and “The Lively Language of Mr. Lingo.” This experience was an excellent preparation for my “second career” – writing.

To date, I have two published books, P is for Pelican, a Louisiana Alphabet and B is for Bookworm, A Library Alphabet. The latter won an IPPY (Independent Publishers) Award for best children’s non-fiction book. Two additional books will be released in 2009 – Timothy Hubble and the King Cake Party and Cajun Counting, (a tentative title).

Q: Describe the process it takes for you to write an alphabet book.
A: Alphabet books are great fun to write. (Although the letters q, x, and z often present quite a challenge.) I begin with a column of letters from A to Z. Next I brainstorm, writing next to each letter every possible thing I might want to include in the text. Then comes the hard part – deciding what to eliminate from the list. Finally, when I’ve decided on one topic for each letter, I research, research, research. When the first draft of the manuscript is finished, I edit and revise several times until I am satisfied with the finished product.

Q: How do you propose to influence today’s young readers through this book?
A: When I decided to write this book, I had several goals. I wanted the book to be a practical guide to using the many services a library has to offer. But I wanted it to be more than just a “how to” book. I wanted young readers to learn about libraries throughout the ages, and to appreciate all the things that have come together over the years to make modern libraries what they are today. Thus, the story of the historic Library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt is told. Young readers are also reminded of when “books” were written on clay tablets or papyrus strips. The importance of Gutenberg’s invention is discussed. And from our own country’s history, the story is told of Ben Franklin and the members of the Leather Apron Club, who opened the first subscription library in 1731.

Q: What are some of the things you like most about libraries and books?
A: Books are magical. They teach, they entertain, they inspire. They take you to far-away places and open the door to worlds you can only imagine. And the key to opening that door for a child is his own library card – so easy to use at the neighborhood library.

I love the fun of storybook time for the preschool crowd and the sound of childish laughter echoing through the building. Finally, I love that libraries have embraced the electronic age by providing computer access to anyone needing internet information. What a gift to students and adults who might not otherwise be able to have this service.

Q: Share one tip you’d like to give someone who is trying to write an alphabet book:
A: Pick a topic that you love. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about that topic, you’ll find through research that you have only scratched the tip of the iceberg. I know that’s exactly what happened to me when I decided to write B is for Bookworm. Having worked in schools with libraries for so many years, I thought I knew most everything there was to know about libraries. Surprise! I know so much more now – and I’m sure there’s still a lot more to learn.


  1. Nancy, great interview with Anita Prieto. Both of her books are beautiful and so well written. I’m anxious to see her upcoming books.

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