For kids, anytime is a good time to rhyme
Mary Ann Hoberman has been writing rhyming stories for children for more than 50 years.
Reading rhymes can be a lot of fun, but writing verse might be even more entertaining. Just ask Mary Ann Hoberman. She's been writing books of poems and rhyming stories for children for more than 50 years.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Her first book, "All My Shoes Come in Twos," was published back in 1957. She got the idea from seeing how fascinated her kids were with their shoes when they were little. Like many young children, they found it amusing to take off their shoes and play with them.
Since that first book came out, Mrs. Hoberman has published more than 40 kids' books.
A lifelong storyteller
So how did Mrs. Hoberman grow up to become a kids' book author?
Well, she got an early start. She began making up stories when she was only 5 years old! She would tell them to her younger brother and an imaginary friend.
It was a game to them – she and her brother just liked drawing pictures and telling stories.
When she was a little girl, Mrs. Hoberman also loved to read classic fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Some of her favorite novels were "Heidi" and "Mary Poppins." And, of course, she always especially liked poetry books.
Dr. Seuss inspired her, too. In fact, she wrote some of her first kids' books based on his style.
"We all like this kind of verse. Even adults like it," she says.
Still, it was a long time before Mrs. Hoberman thought of writing for children.
She always wanted to be a writer, but she started out writing and editing more grown-up material.
First, she wrote for the newspaper at her junior high school. One year, she was editor of her high school's yearbook. And when she attended Smith College in Northampton, Mass., she wrote for the newspaper there.
During the time that she and her husband, Norman Hoberman, lived in Harrisburg, Pa., she wrote feature articles for the women's page of a local paper. And in Washington, D.C., she worked as a proofreader. (That means she looked for mistakes in the work of other writers.) She really enjoyed her early career after she had children because she could write and edit from home and stay with her kids.
As a young mother, though, Mrs. Hoberman found herself making up poems for her children when they were still in the baby carriage. The ideas for many books would just pop into her head when she walked.
"Ideas often came to me when [I was] lying in bed at night or walking," she says. She believes the rhythm of walking helps the ideas come naturally.
"If I am walking and don't bring a pad [of paper] with me, I have to rush home to write [the idea] down before I forget it," she adds.
And so Mrs. Hoberman began writing for kids instead of grown-ups. Even though at first, her books of children's verse did not sell well, Mrs. Hoberman kept at it – with her husband's help.
He worked as an architect and artist, so he drew the pictures for the first four of his wife's books. He illustrated "All My Shoes Come in Twos." And he even gave his wife the idea for one of her early books, "How Do I Go?" It's about the different ways kids can travel – on a tricycle, on a bike, in a car, or on an airplane. Mr. Hoberman drew the pictures for this book, too, as well as for "Hello and Good-by," Mrs. Hoberman's first collection of children's poems.