Author Spotlight: Aileen Weintraub
November 19, 2021
We are excited to feature author Aileen Weintraub and her most recent book, WE GOT GAME! 35 FEMALE ATHLETES WHO CHANGED THE WORLD, illustrated by Sarah Green (Running Press Kids, 2021)
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Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thank you so much for having me on Kitlit411! I’m so excited to be here. I’m an author, journalist, and editor who has published over fifty books for children and young adults. My book Never Too Young! 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference won a Parents’ Choice Award, and my most recent book, We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World, recently received a starred review from School Library Journal.
I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer, especially a children’s book writer. My local children’s librarian instilled a love of reading in me, and sparked my interest in writing. Librarians and teachers deserve a world of credit for all they do. After college, I began my career on Wall Street, switched to advertising, and eventually found a job as an editor at a children’s publishing company. I knew I had found my calling. That job taught me so much about both writing and editing. Eventually, I became a full-time freelance writer with a focus on nonfiction children’s books. I love writing for children because there is so much they have yet to discover and learn, and I hope my books will inspire them.
Congrats on your new book, We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World! Please tell us about the book and what inspired you.
This is one of my favorite questions! We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World is a middle-grade social justice book about female athletes who are using their fame to advocate for change, focusing on issues including gender equality, disability rights, climate change, body positivity, cyberbullying, and more. Of course it also includes a lot of stats and facts about the athletes’ amazing careers.
I came up with the idea of writing about female athletes because my son is big into soccer. We were driving in the car one day with his friends and they were talking about all their role models. Every one of them was a male athlete. I’m glad they have role models to look up to, but I wanted them to know that female athletes are just as talented as their male counterparts. That moment in the car was when the idea for this book was born.
Social justice books are so important, especially for kids because they help explain and bring awareness to current issues. I love learning about people who advocate for change in the world, and I hope middle-grade readers will read this book and feel empowered to learn more about the causes they care about. To go with the book, I’ve created a free downloadable activity packet, which is available on my website and includes journaling, puzzles, and trivia. It’s great for teachers and educators, too!
Was your initial road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
We Got Game! sold pretty quickly and I’m very fortunate because I know first-hand how stressful the submission process can be. I wrote the proposal for this book because there was a need for diverse books about female athletes. So many girls drop out of sports by the time they are in middle school because they don’t have the support they need. Often the facilities are lacking, and the best coaches prefer to coach boys’ teams. We need to change this. I wrote an op-ed about this for NBC, which you can read here.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve switched gears to work on a project very close to my heart. I’m in the final editing stages of my forthcoming title KNOCKED DOWN: A HIGH-RISK MEMOIR, which I’m thrilled to announce is now available for pre-order.
Here is the catalog copy:
Knocked Down is a laugh-out-loud memoir about a free-spirited, commitment-phobic Brooklyn girl who, after a whirlwind romance, finds herself living in a rickety farmhouse, pregnant, and faced with five months of doctor-prescribed bed rest because of unusually large fibroids. As the farmhouse collapses around her and her marriage does the same, she confronts her grief for her father while fighting for the survival of her unborn baby. In her precarious condition, will she stay or will she run away from it all?
There is definitely a cross over audience with this memoir; I think it will resonate with parents of my children’s book readers. Like We Got Game, it is about empowering women to speak up for themselves and advocate for their needs, especially around their physical and mental health.
What are your best research tips for writing nonfiction for children?
When I have an idea, one of the first things I do is head to both the library and my awesome Indy bookstore to see what is already on the shelf. I want to know what the comps are and if there is space in the market for my project. I also talk to children about my ideas. They have some of the most brilliant suggestions! My goal for We Got Game! was to make sure the book appealed to all children, not just girls, so I asked kids what they would like to see in the book.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I’m very outgoing, and I love to chat, but like many writers, I need a lot of quiet down time to recharge. This is so important for creative people. It takes a lot of thought and quiet space to come up with good ideas.
Where can people find you online?
Aileen Weintraub is an award-winning author, journalist, and editor. She has published several children’s books, including Never Too Young! 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference and We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World. She has also written for the Washington Post, Glamour, NBC, and AARP, among others. Her next book, KNOCKED DOWN: A High-Risk Memoir is currently available for pre-order.
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