Holy Cow! Ann Morris has written more than 100 picture books for children! I met Ann at a workshop for teachers at the Guggenheim Museum and instantly wanted to get to know her. Ann graciously welcomed a visit from me in her lovely apartment in the upper west side of Manhattan. There, she shared the path that led to her rich and rewarding career as a children’s book author.
Originally a teacher of young children and a teacher of teachers, Ann went on to a 13-year stint at Scholastic as the head of the early childhood department. In that position, she oversaw the production of the magazine Let’s Find Out, various sound filmstrips, and other audio-visual materials. When Ann decided that she wanted to develop her own educational materials, she sold her book ideas quickly. She met Ken Heyman, Margaret Mead’s photographer, and initiated collaboration with him on some of her books. Currently, much of Ann's work is done with Peter Linenthal, whom she calls "a talented artist,photographer, sculptor and creative partner in all ways."
In books such as Bread, Bread, Bread and Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, you can see that Anne is the master of taking a single concept and depicting it, through words and photographs, across a multitude of cultures around the globe. Young people get to see similarities and differences in a visual way. In the back of the concept books, Ann tells where each picture was taken.
The global nature of Ann’s books is fed by her life-long love of travel. Indeed, Ann will testify to the high number of adventures connected to the making of her books. She travels to do research, to interview people. She travels with different photographers.
Currently, Ann volunteers for Learning Leaders in their Authors Read-a-Loud program. She visits various school classrooms to share her books and book-making processes with young people. She also conducts multicultural grandparent/parent/child book-making workshops which tie in with her series What Was It Like, Grandma? This collection includes books that look at the lives of grandmothers of seven different heritages: Latina, Arab, Chinese, African, Native American, British and Jewish.
One thing I admire and respect about Ann is how she keeps her life big and interesting through her genuine love for people and curiosity about the world around her. Her office bulletin board is full of photographs of the people she’s met and kept in touch with; her home is full of keepsakes from her travels. Being in her apartment feels like being in a smaller, more intimate version of a museum.
Ann Morris is a woman with a thousand stories to tell. Fortunately for us, she continues to tell them through her beautiful, well-crafted books.
If you’d like to know more about Ann and her work, you can visit her website at http://www.annmorrisbooks.com/