We’re thrilled to Skinny Dip with outstanding educator Suzanne Costner, Thanks to Suzanne for answer our questions during her very busy end-of-the-school-year hours.
Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why?
My favorite teacher was Mrs. Hill in 4th grade. She read to us every day after lunch: Stuart Little, Where the Red Fern Grows, James and the Giant Peach. She introduced us to so many awesome writers that I still go back and reread.
When did you first start reading books?
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t read. I still have my first little cloth book that I chewed on as a baby. My grandmother had a set of Dr. Seuss books on the shelf and read them to me whenever I stayed with her. I was reading on my own before I started kindergarten.
Your favorite daydream?
In my daydream, I am living in a little cabin in the woods with my dogs and my books. There is a little stream gurgling along nearby and sunlight filtering through the trees.
Dinner party at your favorite restaurant with people living or dead: where is it and who’s on the guest list?
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, and Lloyd Alexander. My sister and my nieces would have to be there, too.
All-time favorite book?
The Princess Bride—chases, escapes, swordfights, torture, pirates, giants, magic, true love...
Favorite breakfast or lunch as a kid?
My favorite lunch was a peanut butter sandwich, and I always asked for “a lid on it,” because I didn’t like open-faced sandwiches.
What’s your least favorite chore?
It’s probably laundry, because the washing machine is in the basement and it means multiple trips up and down the stairs.
What’s your favorite part of starting a new project?
Bouncing my ideas off my friends and having them suggest ways to make things even better.
Barefoot? Socks? Shoes? How would we most often find you at home?
Barefoot, and either reading a book or listening to an audio book.
When are you your most creative?
When I am writing grant applications to fund more STEM activities for my students. I can think of all sorts of ways to tie rockets, robots, and gadgets into literacy instruction.
Your best memory of your school library?
I was a library aide in middle school and loved being in the library and helping to get the new books ready for the shelf. That “new book” smell when the box was opened should be a signature perfume or cologne.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
O’Charley’s Caramel Pie ice cream from Mayfield Dairies (the best of both worlds)
Book on your bedside table right now?
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.
What’s your hidden talent?
I have a brain that holds onto trivia, so I can come up with a song or movie quote for almost any occasion. Sometimes at family dinners we all just speak in movie quotes.
Your favorite toy as a child …
I had a little wooden riding toy that looked like a giraffe. I rode it up and down the walk behind my grandparents’ house. I also had a cowgirl outfit, complete with boots and hat that I loved to wear.
Best invention in the last 200 years?
Digital books so that I can go on vacation without taking a second suitcase just for all my reading material.
Favorite artist? Why?
I love space and stars, so Van Gogh’s Starry Night is my favorite painting. I don’t really have one favorite artist.
Which is worse: spiders or snakes?
Spiders—because my sister Jamie hates them and I have to rescue her from them.
What’s your best contribution to taking care of the environment?
Recycling. especially trading in books at the used bookstore, or using CFL bulbs in my reading lamps.
Why do you feel hopeful for humankind?
Because kids still fall in love with books. If they can lose themselves in characters and settings that are different from their everyday world, then they can learn tolerance and kindness.
What a great photo of you as a child, Suzanne! And you are right, if kids are still connecting with book characters, they will still learn tolerance and kindness. What a good reason for continued funding of libraries.
Awesome interview. Your comment about the “new book smell” took me back a few years. My wife worked as a library assistant and cataloging books was her favorite job. Seeing the new books, thinking about which kids might enjoy which book. True dedication to the library craft. Keep up the passion. Gary Mlodzik, Grow Your Library Director, Kids Need to Read.