by Ruth Spiro

As we head into a new week of Storystorm, you may (or may not) have a growing list of ideas. But if you’re anything like me, you’re staring at that list and thinking, “Now what?” Because stories almost never come to me fully formed. They usually start with just a glimmer. A thought. An image. A feeling. So, how do I turn an idea into a story?

I ask, “What does this make me think of?”

When someone asks me where my book ideas come from, I basically re-enact a scene from the movie Working Girl. You know, the one where Melanie Griffith is asked how she came up with the idea for investing in a radio station. She pulls out a folder with seemingly random notes and news clippings, then proceeds to connect the dots, showing how each bit of information made her think of something else that eventually led her to the Big Idea.

Here’s an example of how that might work:

Idea:  Apples

What does that make me think of?

Apple-picking with my kids

What does that make me think of?

Apple trees

What does that make me think of?

If this gets tedious, you can switch it up and ask a different question. (Especially helpful if you’re writing nonfiction.)

What does this make me wonder?

What more do I want to know?

Getting back to our apple trees, the thing I wanted to know was “How?” How do apples grow on trees?

If you’re curious too, you’ll find the answer here:

I used the same technique to come up with a story for my newest book, MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER, the sequel to MADE BY MAXINE.

For those who haven’t read the first Maxine book, she’s a girl who loves to make things, but not in the crafty sense. She’s a true Maker at heart who uses her tinkering and coding skills to build things that solve problems around the house. Her motto is, “If I can dream it, I can build it!”

As I began brainstorming ideas for MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER, I made a list of locations and things kids like to do.

Idea:  Do stuff in the backyard

What does that make me think of?

Planting a garden

What does that make me think of?

A challenge I experienced in my own garden.

A-Ha! Now I had something to work with.

Like many gardeners, I’ve had my share of frustration when critters nibbled on the fruits of my labor. If my STEM-loving Maxine had this same problem, how would she solve it in a way true to her character? I couldn’t wait to let her show me!

Without revealing too much more, MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER is about friendship, creativity, persistence, and being kind to one another. Maxine discovers there are often multiple solutions to a problem, and sometimes a problem isn’t really a problem at all, but an opportunity to grow.

I can’t sign off here without acknowledging the importance of today, Marin Luther King Jr. Day. We honor the life, work, and legacy of an important civil rights leader in our country’s history. What does this make me think of?

In 2017 I was invited to present at the LA Times Book Festival and had the opportunity to attend a talk with Representative John Lewis and Andrew Aydin about their recent release, MARCH: BOOK THREE. (From the front row, no less!)

What does this make me think of?

Representative Lewis said, “Find a way to get in the way.”

What does this make YOU think of?

Go write it!

Ruth Spiro is the author of the Baby Loves Science board book series, published by Charlesbridge. There are 21 current and forthcoming titles including Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering, Baby Loves Coding and Baby Loves the Five Senses. She continues her signature style of introducing complex subjects to little listeners with Baby Loves Political Science, a new series perfect for election year and beyond. Democracy and Justice are now available, Congress and The Presidency arrive this April. The Science books are illustrated by Irene Chan and Political Science by Greg Paprocki.

Ruth’s STEM-themed picture book series, Made by Maxine (Dial), is about an inspiring young Maker who knows that with enough effort, imagination and recyclables, it’s possible to invent anything. Made by Maxine sold at auction as a three-book series, Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever comes out on February 16. Maxine is illustrated by Holly Hatam.

A frequent speaker at schools and conferences, Ruth’s previous presentations include the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row LitFest, Children’s Festival of Stories, Nerd Camp Michigan, NAEYC and more. Ruth hopes her books inspire kids to observe the world, ask questions, and when it comes to their futures, DREAM BIG!

Ruth’s books are all available from your favorite bookseller. When possible, please support independent bookstores!

Visit Ruth online at Penguin Classroom, ruthspiro.com, Facebook, Twitter @RuthSpiro, and Instagram @ruthspiro.

Ruth is giving away 2 signed copies of MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER and one of BABY LOVES POLITICAL SCIENCE: DEMOCRACY.

Three separate winners will be randomly chosen.

Leave one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email address to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 12,913 other followers

My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

Blog Topics

Archives

Twitter Updates

Thank you for sharing your tips on how to turn ideas into stories! Can’t wait to give it a try.

Hi Ruth, What a great post to help generate ideas. Thank you. I will look for your books. So many books, Congratulations.

Thank you for your inspiration.

Oh, my goodness….the ending of this post is outstanding. Wow! I just want to go start scribbling right now…and I will! Thank you.

Thanks for these tips, Ruth. And thank you for remembering the importance of this day.
Gail Hartman

Great story trail idea, Ruth. And what a quote to close with – love it.
Thanks for sharing!

I love that simple question, “what does this make me think of?” Very helpful, thank you!

You clearly underscore the benefits of asking follow-up questions to help us expand our initial picture book ideas. I love that suggestion! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for sharing your thought process, Ruth!

Thank you! Sometimes I think as grown ups we forget to ask questions because we think we know the answer. It will definitely help see the world through different lenses.

I love the process you go through with your ideas, Ruth. Can’t wait to apply that to my ideas. Looking forward to reading your stories!

I will try to turn one of my idea to a story. Thank you for sharing!

I like this simple yet effective way to come up with new ideas through a string of questions.
And it has already helped me to write down two new ideas today. Thanks, Ruth!

Thanks for sharing your process! STEM is such an important basis for kids books.

Ruth, I heard you speak at the Marvelous Midwest SCBWI conference in 2019 and reading this blog took me back to your presentation. Thank you so much for the inspiration and I will be pondering how I can get in the way! Lots of opportunities to follow John Lewis’s advice.

I love hearing about a writer’s creative process, especially someone who pursues writing about science and engineering. I had the pleasure of attending a 2020 NYSCBWI presentation by Yolanda Scott of Charlesbridge and Heidi Y. Stemple. Thanks for sharing your process.

..there are multiple solutions to a problem and sometimes a problem isn’t really a problem at al but an opportunity to grow….Maxine made one of the greatest discoveries!! So so true. And so important to instill in little- and big -minds… Great post!

The Maxine books sound wonderful!

Thanks for sharing another method to try!

Thank you!

I will definitely try this technique- thanks!

Really intrigued by this process of asking ourselves questions about our ideas. So many of my ideas come to me as simply a word or a thing and this seems like a good way to go deeper into these flashes of ideas and flesh them out.

You are right, I have been thinking “What now?” I will definitely give your tips a try! Thanks for sharing.

I 💘h

Maxine sounds like a great character – I love the cover illustrations too :o)

Great advice!

Thank you for sharing your thought process, Ruth. I’ll give it a try. Congrast on your newest books!

Way! No way? Yes! Way! Love Rep. Lewis’ advice! and your Storystorm post! Thanks!

Thanks for your inspiration Ruth!!! Looking forward to reading your books!

Wonderful to see how you use this unintimidating question, Ruth. And congrats!

Ruth, Thank you for giving me ideas!

Thanks for this! The questions snd curiosity are what it’s all about! ❤️

Ooooh, I didn’t know about your Baby Loves Political Science series! Can’t wait to check those out!

I love the working girl reference! I will definitely try this questioning everything to pull my ideas together ❤ I am really looking forward to reading your Maxine and the Greatest Garden ever!

I love the way one thought leads to the next. I’m definitely going to try this exercise! Thank you.

Great example to “connect the dots” when brainstorming PB ideas. Thank you for also mentioning John Lewis and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. Today is so important to remember – read – share – think – and act positively.

Thank you for this reminder. I used to ask my students to do this and I sometimes remember to do what I taught my students. LOL! I will definitely be asking questions when looking at my ideas.

Thank you for sharing what you do with your ideas, Ruth. That’s the hardest part! Your post is inspiring, especially the quote by John Lewis.

Thanks for sharing your process for generating ideas!

Thank you, Ruth! Representative Lewis was the keynote at my son’s college graduation. I ended up taking notes all over the program! The board books featuring political science sound amazing. I have to get to know Maxine because her character and mission(s) are full of industry. Is there anything more satisfying than working with your hands? Looking forward to the winding trail using the fragments in my Storystorm journal using the line of questioning you do!
Thank you, Tara, for making every January stormy in the best possible way for all of us.

The Maxine books start adorable. Can’t wait to read them

Thank you Ruth😊

Awesome way to ask different questions that can set me on my way to new ideas and directions. I am digesting all that you shared in your post! and thanks for the nod to MLK Jr. – a true patriot of liberty and justice for all.

Ruth,
Thanks for sharing your process. Congrats on the new book baby❤️

So many great questions to ponder!

Wonderful and excellent idea! I am sitting here wondering how Maxine would solve her problem and I can’t wait to find it!

Thanks for sharing your process, Ruth! And congrats on sooo many books coming out! Wowza:>

I truly appreciate your idea generator. Thank you. And the Working Girl connection is perfect. I just added Maxine to my library book order.

I like this method of building on that first thought. Thanks!

Ruth, Love your Baby board book series and you sharing your Maker Maxine process. Very cool. Agree, we need to serve on MLK Day and as the latge John Lewis reminds us, “get in good trouble!”

What does that make me think of? Find a way to get in the way. Okay. I can work with questions and commands.
I had an idea before I completed reading the blog. A walk on the beach on this crisp, and cold winter morning for Florida, was added to my agenda because I read your blog.
The answer to your question lies in the story your words sparked this morning.

Almost like an idea- taking one simple concept and branching out with other questions and related ideas. Love it!

Thanks, I love how you simplify the process down to asking questions to let the story evolve. Your books look wonderful, congrats!

Thanks for reminding me to ask questions.

Thanks for your post Ruth; and for helping me discover another trail on my search for the “Big Idea.”

What a great post! Thank you. Looking forward to reading the Maxine books. They look wonderful.

Definitely need to keep asking those questions … what, why, how. That you for your post and best of luck with the new book(s)!

Such a great way to generate ideas and follow them to their logical conclusion!

Thank you for sharing your idea generating process. I’m looking forward to reading your books!

Interesting way of generating ideas and helping them evolve.

Thanks I’m going to have a song in my head for two weeks..9 to 5 got to work to make a living….why…hmmmm I’m getting a story seed of an idea…whahoooooo

Thanks for the insight into your process! The key… keeping asking questions. I’m going to do that right now. Thanks!

Impressed with your ability to make complex ideas available to kids. Thanks for your insights, too

Wow! What a career!
Thanks for the inspiration!

The children of our world definitely need more books to promote science. Thank you for helping the world grow.

Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth! Looking forward to reading your new Maxine book!

Great post! Thanks for the tips!!

Thank you for sharing these tips on asking questions to dive deeper on a topic. Your baby loves science books look fantastic. I wish I’d had those for my kids when they were young. My engineer husband would have loved reading those to them. I’m excited to read your Maxine series as well. Congratulations on your success!

Thanks for sharing your process!

Thank you, Ruth, for questions that I can’t wait to ask myself, and congrats on your wonderful books!

Asking questions is such a great way to dig deep into ideas!

The idea of connecting the dots as a way of going deeper really resonated with me. Thanks!

Love your process. Thanks for being part of Story Storm!

Thank you for the questions to ask. I like the way you approach an idea.

Love your books! Thanks for sharing!

I love your post, and reminds me of the way children think too. So now what? Love that.

Thank you for your awesome post! I love the stem focus and cannot believe how many books you have coming!! Congrats!

Thank you for these tips, Ruth! Looking forward to reading some of your new books coming out!
-Maryna Doughty

To answer your last question first: “Good trouble.” This applies to characters, too, so I wonder what kind of good trouble they can get into? Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth!

Thanks for this great post. It is a day to honor MLK. What does that make me think of? John Lewis and RBG. Putting on my RBG pearls and getting ready to write. Thanks!

Thank you so much, Ruth!

Thank you, Martin Luther King.

And thank you for this post!

Thanks for the post. I love your Baby STEM series and look forward to your new books too.

Thank you, this makes me want to question, question, question!

Very inspirational – thank you:)

Thank you Tara. Thank you Ruth! This was wonderful. I am feeling very inspired. I absolutely loved that scene in Working Girl. I watched it 20 years ago and it never left me for sooo many reasons. Love your questions to dive into ideas further, and that problems are sometimes an opportunity to grow. Look forward to reading you books. I’m Canadian so I’m commenting to thank you both only! Rosanna

Hi Ruth, I’m always happy to read about STEM related PBs. Now to find a home for mine.

I love ideas on ways to flesh out that first little glimmer. Thank you, Ruth.

I love that scene from Working Girl. Thanks for your tips and inspiration!

Thank you Ruth for your inspiring post. Loved seeing your process.

I love these questions! Thanks so much for sharing your process.

Terrific post, thank you. I am now thinking of many things!

Thanks Ruth. Great strategy. I’m looking forward to checking out your books! Especially the Maxine books..showing that girls can “do” math and science just like the boys.
I’m so jealous you got to actually see John Lewis give a speech And from the front row! Wow! And you share a name with another strong, capable woman..RBG. (RIP).
Close to a homerun for today..
1.great strategy
2. John Lewis
3. RBG
Thanks!

Just in time! I have 31 ideas or story sparks but needed a way to craft a plot. Thank you! I’m off to wondering now 😊

Great post – would love to hear Ruth speak sometime!

Thank you, Ruth, for giving us ideas that allow us to think and connect. Today will be a fascinating day of connections.

I love this way of thinking about ideas to generate new ones. Perfect for the next step we need to take with all the ideas we have been collecting. I wish I had your books when I was teaching!

Thank you! Your practical tips in revealing your process are so helpful.

Wonderful post from the tips to start to that Rep. Lewis finish! Thank you Ruth!

Thank You! Thank you! THANK YOU! “Find a way to get in the way.”

As a nature person, I ask a lot of questions. I love the nature journaling three, I notice, I wonder, and It reminds me of.

That’s a fantastic quote by Lewis – has me pondering…

Thank you for the inspiration!

“He had a dream…” (and thank you for your help today!)

Working girl for children’s books – love it. I think clipping out articles is a good idea as well — although it does lead to just stacks of ideas that may go nowhere. So many ideas, so little time.

Thank you- love the comment “opportunity to grow”, that also applies to our own stories.

Thank you for sharing your approach to generating ideas, Ruth…and for highlighting MLK’s ground-breaking work and legacy–especially today but just as importantly, everyday. You’re so fortunate to have heard Rep. Lewis’ message to “Find a way to get in the way” in person!
As a life-long science nerd, STEM topics are near and dear to me! Your/Maxine’s perspective that “there are often multiple solutions to a problem, and sometimes a problem isn’t really a problem at all, but an opportunity to grow” resonates strongly with me.

Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom!

Wonderful way to spark more ideas, and I can’t wait to read your Maxine books!

Thanks, Ruth! I love the idea of a character with a motto. So helpful! My ideas also bloom slowly from bits of ideas. Congratulations on your latest books.

Ruth, I’ve watched your talent bloom and grow. You are amazing. Thanks for sharing your process.

Ideas, all words related to that idea, the child’s point of view, the emotions to evoke, explore, and research, then write.

Questions always lead to more questions, and if you pay close attention, great ideas, too! Thanks for the great post and your wonderful books for kids.

I like the idea of connecting the dots and one question leading to another one for ideas.

Love this idea! Thanks for the tip.

It’s the little things that add up to a big story ❤

Ruth, I love your books! Thanks for sharing your process with us. Just as generating ideas requires practice, so does turning those idea-seeds into a story!

I’ve been lucky enough to have been at an event where Ruth presented. She is an amazing speaker and when the presentation was over she had us all wishing she could of just kept on going.

Ruth, your “what does this make me think of” questions just gave me a wonderful idea. Thank you!

I love the comparison to working girl! Great scene, great movie, great ideas. Thank you for sharing!

Interesting how one idea leads to another. Thank you!

What books would Maxine write? who would be her audience? adults? grandparents? politicians? am going to library to get me some Maxine! thank you

Another fun and inspirational post. Thank you, Ruth! Trampoline ideas coming up…

Your Maxine books sound perfectly written for a child today. I love the themes you have integrated into them. And from your post, it is clear you understand the child’s world. Thank you for your suggestions!

What a brilliant and simple idea! LOVE IT! Reminds me of an exercise I do called the seven whys.

Love your “Working Girl” reference. Thanks!

Excellent read and filled with ideas and how to capture the ideas. I am a gardener and will definitely have Maxine on my shelf.

Love the series of questions that you ask yourself . . . until you find your story. Thank you for sharing your 22 book journey.

To and you. This was very helpful.

Happy MLK day! This is a solid, concrete exercise I will try right away. Thanks!

Turning ideas into stories can sometimes be a challenge. Thanks so much for your helpful hints!

Thank you for the great suggestion, Ruth. Nothing could be more child-like than a stream of questions!

I have to see one of your Baby Loves books. Trying to imagine how a baby loves political science.

❤️Thank you for sharing your process.❤️

Thanks for sharing your fun strategy and the useful reminder to stay curious and keep on asking questions!

Wow, Ruth. You’re such a fountain of ideas. Thanks for showing us how you connect random dots. Very much appreciated.

Thanks. Can’t wait to try your tips. Your books sound wonderful.

Ruth, thanks so much for sharing your process!

Thank you this is so helpful. I have one idea that keeps asking me to do something with it. I feel like I am pushing to hard to figure it out…tools like this are so helpful…now I can try new things, more than 1 way to develop ideas…writing is often about exploring. After all…we are lifelong learners…

Brilliant! Just keep asking! Stay curious. Dig deeper. That’s a beautiful and very childlike approach. That’s how kids discover their world. And our world has so much to discover! Thank you for reminding me that when it comes to creativity and writing—especially for children—maintaining a childlike attitude will serve us best.

Such a great post! Thanks for sharing your ideas. I like how you said, “Maxine discovers there are often multiple solutions to a problem, and sometimes a problem isn’t really a problem at all, but an opportunity to grow.” I want to be more like Maxine!

Thanks for this post and for sharing your process! 😀

Love this, I think all my stories are hidden behind the right questions! Why does…? What next? What if? How? With who?

Thanks for sharing your process! And your books. As a grandma-to-be, Baby loves Gravity is my favorite. With a puppy in the family, that scenario is sure to play out often!

Great post! I just had a good story idea from reading it! Thanks.

Can’t wait to read Maxine and the Greatest Garden!

Super helpful post on how to grow a story, Ruth. Thanks so much for sharing your list of seedling questions with us!

This is the greatest concept, introducing little ones to STEM ! What does this make me think of? That our future is brighter with kids growing up with science and facts and the ability to think and problem-solve. Well done, Ruth!

I like the idea of associative digging and of course I remember that scene in WORKING GIRL! Thank you.

Thanks for sharing

Oh wow! I was just thinking about creating stuffs from recyclable materials and your email just popped up. Must be a sign. Was hoping to read all about Maxine. She’s really inspirational!

Ruth, thank you for encouraging us to realize the value of asking questions and exploring ideas with childlike curiosity and abandonment. I’m motivated this morning to get started. Thanks!

I love the simple, yet powerful, “What does this make you think of,” what a great brainstorming tool!

Thanks for the advice, I love your combination of Science and Story.

Find a Way to Get in the Way! love it!

Thank you for the great tips and sparking our imaginations on this cold wintry day. I can’t wait to read your books to our grandsons.

Inspirational! Thank you!

Great brainstorming tool. I have a story just developing and I will be asking this question to see where it leads me. Thanks.

Your books are full of wonder and curiosity, leading to more questions, more learning, and more doing. Thanks for sharing your process.

Thank you for sharing how you go from idea to story. Very inspiring!

Thank you Ruth, I’m really interested in your books. Thank you for sharing your process.

Thanks for sharing your path to a great idea!

Thank you, Ruth, for this inspiring post, especially the call to action at the end. I was completely unaware of your books (how???) and am so glad that I am now. I know a perfect little boy and girl for your Maxine books and the growth-mindset that they’ll encourage.

This inspires me to go develop ideas. The idea generation works for me. The development of the idea is a problem. You just gave me a solution. Thank you.

This is so helpful–thank you! It can be tough to plant bits of ideas and make them blossom. I’ll be using your question to help.

Thanks, Ruth! Love your books!

Thank you so much! And I love that you introduce complex subjects to littles. I was never able to find books like this when my son was little.

What a great idea for digging deeper. Time to get dirty.

Your post made me think of…how fun brainstorming is!

I like this idea. I’ll give it a shot when I’m brainstorming today! I’d also really like to know how Maxine solved the problem of critters nibbling in her garden!

Hi Ruth! Asking questions seems to be the key to going down the rabbit hole of ideas! Thank you for the reminder that we need to constantly be asking the “what” why” and “how” of things. PS- I am going to be looking for your Maxine books!

That chain of thought works for me too. Thanks for sharing it and reminding us that may take a sequence of ideas to get to the heart of our story.

Thanks for sharing your thought process.

I think most of my stories come from random thoughts that I bookmark here, scribble there, till one day something links them all in an unexpected way, and off we go! (How I justify spending so much time on social media) Thanks for sharing!

I liked hearing about your process. I will ask myself questions as I notice more about the life around me. Thank you.

Thanks so much for sharing your technique of asking “What does that make me think of?” I’m going to try that! For STORYSTORM, I tend to flesh my ideas out a bit, but I keep an idea-a-day book all year round (thanks to a suggestion of one of my critique group buddies), and sometimes those ideas are just words or images or bare-bone ideas. I’m going to try asking that question! Thanks!

Great question for brainstorming! Thank you, Ruth!

Wonderful think start!

Thanks for the inspiration in seeking ideas!

Wow, can’t wait to read your amazing books! Thank you for the inspiration today.

I’m looking forward to your political science book.

This makes me think of writing…which makes me think of coffee…which makes me think of scones…scones sound like cones…cones, bones, moans, tones, loans…shoot my library books are overdue *grabs car keys.* I will write when I get back, I promise. Thank you for the inspiration!

Wow! John Lewis! That must have been amazing. I like how you think.

What a fun trail to follow today! Thanks for the inspiration and brainstorming ideas.

Love your books, Ruth! And I love your comment insight about solving problems–“how would she solve it in a way true to her character?” Appreciate your insight into the pitch and story idea behind MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER too! It’s really helpful seeing the thinking behind the books in order to create new ones. Thank you!

I like this conversation with an inspiration spark! I am going to interrogate my inspo now!

“Find a way to get in the way.” Whew. Ruth, thank you for that reminder, both for plotting stories and for, you know, life.

Thank you for this insightful challenge on MLK Day. Peace, Alicia

I enjoyed your post about starting with an idea and listing ways to write about it. Kind of like going down a rabbit hole, which is what I occasionally do. I love your character Maxine and Made by Maxine series. It’s such a great concept, I wish I had thought of it first – LOL.

You just gave me an idea, thanks!

Brainstorming with questions! Great idea to get the writing juices flowing! Thanks, Ruth!

Great post, Ruth! Thank you!

I enjoyed hearing about the process you go through to get an idea for an entire book. Thanks.

Great advice! And I definitely need to check out your books – they look wonderful!

Hi all! Hope everyone is well! I love how easily you lay it all out Ruth….you let it flow then jump, then flow….. maybe I overthink things. Maybe I am trying too hard. Last week I decided to use all the non political b.s. that was around me, including house items breaking, trees taken down, big trash removal, kid needing guidance….I was so frustrated! But each time, I noticed that there was a kernel of a story in my exasperation. i.e……. I learned about dating trees (age, haha…..Tara I felt you about to joke,,…😉) and why trees die. I learned that all trees have differences in where they grow, live & thrive that makes them the way they are….maybe kind of like humans? Then I wondered how a tree stump feels after people leave? I learned I can polyurethane it and seal it for a while. Then put a cushion on top, sit in the sun, and play my banjo like Kermit😆. Ruth you reinforced my feeling that almost any topic can be broken down, even for young children, and the questions they might wonder about, answered in unique ways. Thanks for this post, for letting me share and congratulations on your new(est) book Ruth!✌🏼💙🎶🎨📚

What an inspirational post! Love Maxine and her can-do attitude!

Thank you for an inspirational post. I love your focus on STEM as well as friendship, creativity, persistence, and kindness.

Great tips! Thank you for sharing!

What a greater tribute to MLK than to dig deep and wonder! Thank you Ruth!

Ahhhh! Great post, Ruth! I love the simplicity of “what does this make me think of?” Thank you!!

Thank you Ruth, for sharing the stepping stones. Great inspiration for how to follow up on all of these idea crumbs I’ve collected!

Great tips to ponder -very inspiring! Congrats!

What an inspirational character your Maxine is! Adding her stories to my TBR list.

Thanks Ruth! What a great post with helpful tips. And lucky you for front row for Rep. John Lewis! Thanks again and congrats on your success.

Thanks for sharing your method for ideas. It’s certainly worked well for you! Congrats on your many series. Hoping Maxine can give me some help with the critters invading my garden 🙂 LOL

Great tip! I realized I don’t think about and questions enough with ideas.

I’m so interested in the stem books that you wrote. Thanks for new ideas and inspiration for another day.

I admire your books and the fresh spin they put on topics.

Love the Baby Loves Science Series. Thanks.

This is similar to how I think up ideas. Now just to turn them into fleshed out manuscripts. 🤔

Your growing book list is absolutely inspirational. Thanks for this invigorating post.

This reminds me of following bread crumbs to see where they lead. Sometimes into the woods, sometimes a meadow, sometimes an amusement park, sometimes the back yard…but always something that speaks to the soul, because it ignites a spark…And thank you for honoring Dr. King at the end of your note.

Thank you! I love seeing how other authors develop their ideas.

Heading right out to find out “what that makes me think of”

Thank you, Ruth! Asking ourselves questions is so important. One question leads to another, to another, and we can end up in a totally different – yet perfectly publishable – direction! Congratulations on all your publishing successes!

Asking questions is so important. Being still and listening for answers, too. . .thanks for this lovely bit of inspiration today! Maxine sounds super-fun! Love it!

Lovely talk. The WORKING GIRL clip reminded me of a teacher at UCLA who suggested leafing through magazines with photos to get inspiration.

I really want to write my science and nature book now …. brb

Your quote from Lewis certainly inspires ideas in me. I really love the science & history topics of your books—very fresh.

You give me hope! Most of my ideas are glimmers – or questions – or words too! I wish these books had been around when my (still little) kids had been even smaller.

Great post. Reminders about the power of questions are always valuable.

I love that movie and especially that scene. What does it make me think of? This working girl better get down to work. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anyone have a VHS of WORKING GIRL that I can borrow? Love the tip!

Great brainstorming ideas. thanks

Hi Ruth. Stringing someone along isn’t a good thing but stringing ideas together and seeing where they take you is a great thing. Congratulations on your wildly acclaimed Baby Book series success and all the amazing other books you have written.

Thanks for the inspiration. I’m going to go through all the ideas I’ve come up with so far this month and ask, “What’s that make me think of?”

Your post turned on a lightbulb for me. Which makes me think about lightbulbs, and Edison, and…and…

What a great question to ask of every idea! Thank you for the valuable insight.

Thanks for this fun exercise!

Great blog post, Ruth. I can’t wait to see the books. Thank you

Thanks, Ruth. Your post with questions and the garden really sparked an idea and a title.

Thank you, Ruth. Those are great questions for me to use in the “Now what?” stage. I am ordering your board books, too. How great to get the littles started. I do wonder if the garden solution will work with groundhogs….

Thermodynamics is related to apples growing on trees? Wow! Baby knows more than I do. I’ll have to check out your books! Thanks!

Thank you for this post! So inspiring! I also wanted to thank you for Maxine’s motto: “If I can dream it, I can build it!” I think it is an amazing message you are giving to children…and to adults as well.

Asking questions with the 5Ws + H is an excellent technique to brainstorm.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? + How?

Thank you, Ruth.
Suzy Leopold

Thank you Ruth. Your post reminded me to make good trouble. There’s a big idea in there. Good luck with your new books!

Ruth, I love your brainstorming questions. It is tough to get from an idea or title to the actual creation of a story. Great morning exercise with my coffee. Thanks!

I want to write a book, How do you do that? With a Pen. Where do I get one? In a drawer. Which One?

I love the phrase, “opportunity to grow” and that you write stem books. These questions will lead to deeper thinking! Thank you!

What a great way to generate ideas! Thank you for sharing.

You share such good tips here! Thank you.
Thank you also for the words from Representative Lewis said, “Find a way to get in the way.” Good to here on this day and with the amazing experience we will share with the world on Wednesday.

Thanks for sharing this. A good reminder to dig a little deeper.

That squirrel and pumpkin photo has me wondering? Thanks,

Sent from my iPhone

Thanks for a great post. A special thanks for remembering MLK and John Lewis today. Such an important day for all of us. Now I’m off to try your way to create some story ideas!

Last night I had a breakthrough after asking a lot of What does that make me think of questions. Thanks for this post!

We often think of those kinds of questions as tedious, but if you think about it, they are truly in the mind of a child. The question everything and want to know how things work and what is coming next and who is the good guy, why is the bad guy bad, and so on and so forth.

That photo of the squirrel and the pumpkin has me wondering!

I go down rabbitholes (what if–then what?) all the time–now I feel better about it!

Love it. Thank you for sharing. T

Increible to create books for small kids about such complex topics! Thanks for sharing your process, Ruth. I’m curious.

These look amazing! And thanks for sharing how you craft your ideas. I love it. It’s making me think past idea #15. 🙂

Some really good tips here. Thanks for the post.

Thank you for the post!

Thanks for sharing Ruth! I loved the Working Girl scene. I also appreciate your acknowledgment of Martin Luther King and John Lewis. We need their wisdom now more than ever. Great to get us thinking about ideas on how we can carry the message forward. Erin

Thank you for the post!

Thanks for sharing a great way to drill down (or up) until you hit on your story idea. Congratulations on your new book, I can’t wait to see it!

Great tips! Thank you 🙂

Ruth, your tips worked for my next StoryStorm idea! Thanks!

Maxine is a creative problem solver. All children have this ability. We just need to support it.

I love storming ideas. I am ready and inspired for today. Thank you for giving your thoughts on the subject.

Thank you for sharing Ruth, this article was inspirational.

You wrote “apples” and immediately I remembered a story idea I had about a vegetable that I never wrote down. So that’s going on my idea list today with a few notes about it. Thanks!

Great ideas dod thought experiments.

Your books look great, and your post is a wonderful motivator!

Love all your baby STEM books, Ruth. Thanks for your tips and inspiration!

Hi Ruth, your books look adorable. Critters are so annoying when they eat vegetables and fruit. Thanks for your suggestions and best of luck on your books.

What a fitting way to end your post on MLK day, Thanks, Ruth, for all the tips to generate ideas

Inspiring post for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We have a small pineapple patch growing in our backyard but each time I get to it, it’s already eat on by some kind of night creature. Sparked any idea?

What a great post? It makes me think of a lot of things. I especially appreciate your sharing John Lewis’s quote today as we think about Dr. King and his legacy. And thank you for the shout out to independent bookstores.

Great post! Thanks for the brainstorming ideas. I think I’m flipping my MC again! I too loved the way you ended today’s post. That picture of John Lewis brings memories of a great American. Such a respectful American.

As a research physicist, I’m intrigued by the baby thermodynamics book. I always felt that thermodynamics was the one bit of physics I didn’t understand. Thanks for sharing your creative process.

Thank you for some inspiration!

Awesome post, Ruth! Thanks for inspiring us to connect the dots and wind a trail! 🙂

Thanks for sharing your process, Ruth and congratulations!

Hi Ruth! Thanks for sharing. You are always so inspiring.

Thanks for your post.

Thank you for your ideas.

Congratulations Ruth on your forthcoming book! Thank you for the helpful tips on how to turn an idea into a story. Feeling energized!

Thanks for the inspiration to keep asking questions!

Thank you for sharing Ruth! Congratulations on your success and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 🙂

Congratulations on your upcoming book. Thank you for the inspiring tips.

Just spent time questioning the spark of an idea I had. What a fun way to discover the path the story wants to take.Thank you!

I love the concept behind your Baby series. So important.
Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for your post! I love that your character Maxine is such a science nerd (like me!). I look forward to reading about her adventures.

We should always be curious and asking questions. Your books are very kid-friendly.

Very helpful ideas. Thank you.

Thank you for this inspiring post! I’m looking forward to reading your books.

Must check out the Maxine series. Sounds like a fabulous idea.

Wow! I love your story ideas! I wish Maxine had been around when my kids were little! Thanks for challenging us. 🙂

Wonderful post, Ruth. Your ideas on how one thought can lead to another, to another, and so on, made me think of connecting dots. Once all the dots are connected, there’s a picture. In writing terms, these pictures are stories. Excuse me now while I go and connect some dots for my next PB idea.

Thanks for sharing your tips, Ruth!

What a great reminder to keep questioning, keep wondering, and keep expanding ideas!

Great tips, Ruth. Thanks for the inspiration!

Totally intrigued by the garden book! Thank you for this informative post!

Thanks ever so much for this. I’m going to try this with my class. oh what fun we’ll have! ❤️

Great post! And I’m delighted to say that even before reading this post, today’s idea came about because I noticed something today, and thought about what it could mean. I was in sync with your thoughts even before I read them! (Cue the “Twilight Zone” music…)

Thank you Ruth! Great insights into the ‘Now what’. Throughly enjoyed your post. Best wishes 🌼

Ruth, thank you for the ‘chain of questions’ process, I love it, plan to put it into practice. Also love that ‘it might not be a problem, but rather an opportunity’! Thanks so much!

Thank you for this inspiring post!

I love this- the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” approach to idea-generating! Found a few good rabbit holes already.

Interesting process and inspiring writing post, with such kind acknowledgements on a Martin Luther King Day!

Find a way to get in the way. What does that make you think of? The possibilities are endless, as they are when one repeatedly asks that question about a picture book idea. Thanks for a new approach.

Thanks for sharing your process and for the prompts, I put them to use right away! 🙂

Great post, Ruth! What a thrill to hear Rep. John Lewis speak. Thanks for the tips and questions to zero in on an idea.

Great ideas! Thank you for sharing!

Thank you for your tips and sharing your process.

Thanks so much for sharing so many marvelous ideas!
“Find a way to get in the way”…Wow!

Thanks again! 🙂

Thanks so much for sharing this! It seems so simple, but it’s so effective!
Rebecca Gardyn Levington

I love your post, definitely one for my ‘to be read again and again’ pile. Thanks Ruth!

I love the idea of using ideas to get new ideas!! 🙂 Beautiful!

Good idea. I think Mom will do fine asking herself questions about her ideas. She asks me questions all the time – Who’s a good girl? and Are you so pretty? and the ever popular – What’s in your mouth? and Why are you so naughty?? Yeah. She’s got this…

Love and licks,
Cupcake

Great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing!

Wish I had some babies around so we could start a discussion of democracy. And then maybe one of the babies could teach me about thermo dynamics!
Congratulations on all your books and thanks for the post, Ruth.

Thank you for this post. Good technique to bring those ideas to life.
I loved Maxine’s can do attitude btw.

What great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing. I love Science 😁

Thanks for showing how you follow your curiosity.

I love the chain of ideas concept! Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

Asking questions is a great method to take our Storystorm ideas to the next level!

“Find a way to get in the way.” – Wow!❤️
Thank you Ruth for sharing this idea mapping strategy! Such helpful information for generating new story ideas!

Great post about asking questions and laddering to see where it takes you. I love the STEM focus! Thank you!

Asking questions seems to be a theme through this storystorm. But I like the repetition of your question. It reminds me of a child asking why over and over and having to constantly come up with answers.

Love that scene in Working Girl! Excellent example of following a trail and piecing things together. Thanks, Ruth.

Love your quote “a problem isn’t really a problem at all, but an opportunity to grow.” Reminds me a what Viator Frankl said, “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment one finds meaning in it.”

I love it. It reminds me of free association. Any idea is welcome. Don’t censor yourself. Just generate more ideas. You can edit later. thank you

I LOVE Ruth’s books. Idea mapping is genius!

I have BEAR SNORES ON and I love it! Great idea to build on a refrain. Much like a pop song, the words are sure to help make your book a bedtime favorite.

Can’t wait to read Maxine’s garden adventure. Maybe I’ll glean some ideas to use in my own garden 🙂

Thank you, Ruth. I would love to see how Maxine finds a solution to the garden critters problem!

Maxine sounds like an awesome little girl. I look forward to reading all about her. Hmmm? What does this make me think of?

Love the pumpkin-earing squirrel pic! Thanks for sharing your process!

This is how my brain works…whizzing from one idea to another.

Thank you for this great idea. I need to go and ask some questions!

What a wonderful post, Ruth! You are an inspiration with the Baby Loves Science series and Maxine! I need to write down all the questions I voice each day – they would make quite a listing! Thank you!

Good Job! You have been a real inspiration. Have to go start jotting down my ideas and questions.

Ruth, thank you for the wonderful post and for reminding me of one of my favorite movies! Your character Maxine reminds me of one of my students. I’m looking forward to the next book!

What a wonderful post! Thank you for the inspiration!

Asking questions until you find a relatable problem to solve is a great way to develop a plot. Makes me think of the scientific method. Kudos!

Thanks for a great post, Ruth!

Great ideas to keep asking questions that lead to a story. Thanks for your post!

Thanks for sharing your process, Ruth! Great post!

Thank you for sharing what works for you, Ruth! So inspiring….

Thank you for this post! You’re great!

enjoyed this!

Great post, thank you Ruth. It’s always so inspiring hearing how others take the idea spark and turn it into a full flame 🔥

Thank you for the inspiration, Ruth! Your books are wonderful. 🙂

Wow, this really works! I ended up somewhere totally unexpected.

Thank you for sharing your process. I love the idea of asking a series of questions. I’m off to find “what does that make me think of?”!

I love your suggestion to follow a trail to the Big Idea!

This is great, Ruth. And then there’s my personal corollary… but why? Congrats on the new Maxine book!

Love your books Ruth! Thank you for your post.

Great process, and tips in brainstorming inspiration 🙂

Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed hearing about your process.

Great tips! Thanks for sharing! Lynn Street

It takes a special talent to bring these subject to a child’s level. Looking forward to find your books.

I’ll have to read about Maxine’s exploits! And how wonderful that you got to hear John Lewis speak!

Thanks, Ruth! This has my wheels turning!

I’ll have to read one of your science books just to see how you made science understandable to toddlers. Since I don’t have young children at home I haven’t read any of your Baby Love books. I intend to remedy this very soon. Great post, Ruth!

Haha! That scene from Working Girl is SO me! I can’t wait to read Maxine and the Greatest Garden!! Thanks for the wonderful idea!

Great suggestion! I’ going to try following a thread and asking questions to brainstorm story ideas .

Thanks for sharing this!

Love hearing your book’s’ backstories. Thanks for sharing,

Thanks for your wonderful post!

Thank you so much for sharing.

Adding this to my toolbox! Thanks.

One thing this post can boast over the others: an appearance by Chunk E. Squirrel (no relation to the pizza media mogul). Look at that fella! And a good taste in pumpkins, no less.

In all seriousness, thank you for the wonderful brainstorming method. It feels akin to psychotherapy in a way, that constant prodding to go deeper and deeper and keep asking questions. I can see how this kind of practice could potentially lead to a whole Russian nesting roll of story ideas!

    Interesting association! I’ve never participated in psychotherapy but I see the connection. That squirrel, and many chipmunks, were feasting all summer! Have you seen the Chunk the Groundhog videos? Take a look on YouTube!

Thank you for sharing your process. I love the idea of Maxine the maker. I will look for your books, I think my students would enjoy them.

I could use Maxine to solve a few problems around here! 🙂 Can’t wait to find out how she solves the critter problem! Thank you for a great post!

Great advice! Keep asking question. Congrats on all of your books, Ruth!!

Thank you Ruth. Never stop asking questions. Great advice. Sometimes I have to remind myself to do that 🙂

Thank you for such a meaningful post! Looking forward to following the prompt, too, and seeing where my ideas take me.

It’s like being a child…always ask the questions??? The questions lead to more ideas and more discovery. Thank you and congrats on your successful books!

RUTH: OH, I SO LOVE this post! THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION!!! As stated in your Author’s Bio: ” [She] hopes her books inspire kids to observe the world, ask questions, and when it comes to their futures, DREAM BIG!” you have done this for the StoryStorm community today, too! By showing us the importance of ALWAYS asking questions and to NEVER stop wondering, you have helped us remember to be more childlike. How could there be a better way to write for children–to be more open to possibilities, just like them!!!?!!! To end your post by asking: “What does this make YOU think of? Go write it!” you have TRULY INSPIRED us to ask the questions, to be open, and to ACTUALLY put pen to paper! Your words have already INSPIRED THREE book ideas for me! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Ruth, I’ve always loved that “Working Girl” scene….it “makes me think of” how my inventions come to light, and just about everything else I create. This post sums it up PERfectly! And wow—John Lewis. “Get in the way” and “make good trouble” ❤ Thanks for such a WONderful post 😀

This is a great Post!!! Building, step by step to being more curious about what the possibilities are – just wonderful advice. Thank you.

Loves your books! Thanks for the motivation!!

Hi, Ruth! I was so happy to see your post today. Made by Maxine is a favorite book in our house. I bought it for my daughter Stella (who reminds me a lot of Maxine!). Your post was an inspiration and I love the question “What does this make me think of?” What an amazing experience to hear John Lewis speak – from the front row! Congrats on all your success!

Great advice! Thank you! 🙂 Jill Dana

Thank you for the idea on developing ideas. I haven’t seen the Maxine books yet but I’ll be sure to look for them now.

It’s always so much fun to follow the path of a word or idea. It’s like hiking with my toddlers, it’s not about the destination but the journey. Often the destination ends up being different than when you set out, and that’s part of the fun. Great advice!

I’m grateful for your thoughts on developing ideas. It can certainly be difficult to have what feels like a great idea, but not have any idea where to go with it. Thanks for the prompts!

What an interesting idea; Find a way to get in the way.” thank you

Thank you Ruth. I’m looking forward to trying these great suggestions!

Ooo! So going to check out your Maxine books. The art looks so cute!

Take a word, a place, an experience–and free associate–good idea!

Thanks, Ruth! I’m going to try the “What does this make me think of?” technique on a vague idea I had today.

How wonderful. STEAM books are also in demand. Thanks for this prompt for today.

Love the idea of STEM-themed! Great post, thank you.

Loved this post!

I love your advice. Thank you so much for sharing!

My list is NOT growing this year (but I’ve gotten two manuscripts somehow????) so I really should be using this idea.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Thanks for sharing your process of asking questions to flesh out ideas. Can’t wait to meet Maxine!

I’ll be trying your “What does this make me think of?” tip today. Thank you.

Such a great post! Thank you.

Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for sharing your process of asking questions. Can’t wait to read your new book.

And then what? Love that question. Thanks for your post Ruth! I always wondered where you got your ideas. Best of Luck with your new Maxine book! Can’t wait to see it.

Thanks for sharing your process!

I know some kids who would love your Maxine series-I will have to check it out. Thank you!

Thank you. I am an STEAM educator, a former Kindergarten teacher and a lover of all things environmental and scientific!

Thank you for the inspiration. It makes me think of new ways to get inspired! 🙂

Thank you for your insight, and the glimpse into your thought process!

Thank you for sharing this!

What wonderful ideas for stories! I have a little inventor at home myself, so I can’t wait to get Made by Maxine.

We love your books, Ruth. My littlest reader wants to marry Maxine 💖 thank you so much for sharing your process! Congrats on all the new titles!

Thanks for a great post, Ruth! I love the question, “what does that make me think of?” Looking forward to reading your new books!

Thank you for your post!

Thank you for this simple, powerful brainstorming strategy, Ruth! My crafty, “junk” obsessed daughter will love your books about Maxine – I can’t wait to read them with her!

Ruth, thanks for this! I agree, most of my story ideas are not fully formed. I try to puzzle them out in my head but I’m excited to try this process to see if it gets the wheels turning a little better!

Ruth, I love how your mind works. Thanks for this inspiring post!

What a great post, Ruth. Following the thought trail and reading your inspiring books!

You are a woman after my own heart – or wandering mind. Thanks for a great post!

Love this post, Ruth! Especially, John Lewis’s words at the end. And we could be inspired by his other words, too, “Good trouble.” Hmm, what does that make me think of?

I got an idea the second I finished reading your post. Thank you!

congratulations on your latest book and thanks for the tips!

Great post! I love the squirrel image, which certainly could be a problem for a garden. But they are so adorable! A construction company once demolished a very old home and older trees. Suddenly there were squirrels running about the rest of the neighborhood. I thought how fun! Until my cat aggressively chased it away. No sharing for them!

Ruth, I’ve listed three story ideas from asking your question “What does it make me think of” after the word “apples.” Thank you for such a simple, effective way to generate a story. I appreciate you empowering young children and showing them how to use their imaginations through brainwork to solve problems. Sending you inspiration for continued success…

I love your books and that John Lewis quote: “Find a way to get in the way.”

Great post, Ruth! Thanks for the inspiration.

I love your approach to STEM in picture books. Thanks for an inspiring post!

Inspiring post! Thank you Ruth!

How amazing to be in the front row for that talk! Angie Isaacs

Great post, Ruth! Thank you!

Wonderful post! Thank you!

Ruth, I’m excited to read your latest book. I planted my first garden last summer, but unfortunately little bugs ruined by vegetables. Thank you for the inspiring post!

Wow, what a terrific post-it really spoke to me on so many levels. Congrats on your books-and keep up the great work, but rest now and then, too!

Hi Ruth, Thank you for sharing! I love when an idea invokes an image. Congrats on your next MAXINE book and your past opportunity to present at the book festival. What a memorable experience.

Great suggestions, Ruth! Thank you for sharing.

I’m going to take your prompt and go down the rabbit hole and see where it takes me. (much better than the twitter rabbit holes I’ve been falling down of late.)

Thanks for your post and for sharing your process.

Thank you! Great post, great ideas!

I’m so glad you’re out there bringing Science to the forefront for our Littles. Can’t wait to check out the Baby Loves series for my little guy!

I love Representative Lewis’ words, “Find a way to get in the way.” That’s what it is all about. Not saying, “I’ll jot it down later” and instead doing it right then. Being there to catch the tumbling of ideas… all part of the wonderful process!

Great post! (Love the Lewis quote!) Thanks, Ruth! 🙂

Thank you Ruth, for winding the trail from idea to story for us. I’m going to try and see where it leads me!

This sounds like a fun process (and perfect for long car drives, too!).

Thank you for your time. Asking questions and formulating answers to help come up with winning story concepts is necessary. I will try and use this idea.

Your “baby loves” series sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing your very STEM based approach to the “writing problem”/opportunity. 🙂

I love your questions method of idea generation! also – “Find a way to get in the way.” whew! what a great quote.. Thank you for the post and for including your story about meeting Rep. John Lewis.

Thank you, Ruth, for the push to ask myself questions, then follow where they lead.

This was a fun and inspirational read. Thank you and I can’t wait to check out your books!

Thanks for sharing your brainstorming technique, Ruth!

Thanks Ruth!

Thanks for sharing your process — lots of good ideas to try!

Oh, the power of questioning! Thanks for the reminder and the tips for following your process from idea to story.

Connecting the dots to get to the Big Idea. Thank you, Ruth!

Thanks for the brainstorm technique. New idea–hooray!

Love the questions!

This squirrel makes me think of so many things! Thanks for the technique!

Thanks for the post!

Thanks for your post, Ruth!

Thank you!

I like this method for tracking down a good idea!

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Thank you for sharing your tips on how you generate ideas.
Congratulations on all of your books!

Ruth, you are a force (in a very good way)! Thank you for sharing your brainstorming ideas and what you’ve been up to (which is a lot!).

I love the tip on asking questions over and over! Thank you for the insight.

Verrrrry helpful ❤️

Thanks for the tip to keep asking and making connections!

I really love the specifics of your exercise. Thank you. It allows everything, every thought, every experience into a practical resource for a potential story. Thank you!!

Effective questions for brainstorming. Thanks!

I will use this technique to brainstorm ideas – thanks for sharing your process.

I’m going to try this line of questioning myself! Especially since there are no wrong answers in brainstorming!

Loved hearing about your process, Ruth! Thanks. Your summary of the heart and core of your Maxine books led to a long, meandering trail of questions and ideas that touch on those themes, as did your quote from Rep. Lewis to “Find a way to get in the way.”

Great questions to ask on the road of creating!

Wow, simply loved this! SO motivating- find a way to get in the way!

Thank you!

From apples to thermo-dynamics – amazing! I love STEM books and Maxine sounds like a great character.

Such great advice. Thanks for reminding me to look beyond the first idea to see where questions lead me.

Thanks for showing us how to craft an orderly path from open mind to potential story.

Love this…Find a way to get in the way! What a great inspirational post! Thank you for sharing! Definitely motivational!

Thanks for giving me some great questions to think about!!

Keep asking questions, then connect the dots. Great tip, thanks!

I always love a connection to John Lewis. His quote gave me an idea as well. Thank you and congrats with your series.

I actually use a very similar line of questioning when I teach my young students to look at art! I guess I should try it on my own art/ideas!

I love that you have created STEM board books! That is great. This question of “What does that make you think of?” could go on and on. The possibilities are endless; and such a simple queston! I cannot wait to meet Maxine! Thanks for sharing this.

What a fabulous post! This is a wonderful way to massage an idea!

I’m trying to get better at asking “What if?” and “What does that make me think of?” questions.

Thank you for sharing your process!

Thanks for sharing your process. Asking questions and wondering sound like empowering tools!

Some very helpful tips in this post. Happy to see John Lewis on this inauguration day (I’m a couple of days behind).Thanks, Ruth.

I love it when asking questions leads to falling down the rabbit hole and a whole new story! Great advice!

Thank you for sharing your process! And what a thrill to be able to meet John Lewis and Andrew Aydin!

What does this make me wonder? What more do I want to know? These are important questions for inquiring kid lit writers. Thank you for sharing how you find your stories.

Thank you for the questions to ask to help generate book ideas and to help with brainstorming. I’m sure that these will prove very useful. And I look forward to reading the books mentioned in your blog. Thanks for participating!

Ruth, your way of developing story ideas was very helpful. I am already asking the ‘what ifs’ and ‘hows’ in my manuscripts. Thank you!

You had me at your first gif! Working Girl is one of my all-time favorite movies and now I’m going to channel that scene every time I brainstorm ideas. Thanks, Ruth!

Ruth, your post is so inspiring! I am just starting to explore the ways I can follow my own curiosity about the world to write for children vs. “try to think of an interesting story idea” (a recipe for instant overthinking and disconnecting from my creative impulse! Not helpful!). Your “how do apples grow on trees?” question is a perfect example of things I think I know, only to find I have no idea whatsoever! Thanks for your fun books!

Thank you for the inspiration and motivation!

Fantastic brain storming idea! Thank you for the post!

Questions are such a great way to brainstorm. Thank you for reminding us!

So many pumpkins have been lost to the hungry squirrels! Maybe I can use the solution Maxine comes up with!

Great post, Ruth. Keep your ideas coming!

Thinking of what kids enjoy doing it the first step to a book kids will enjoy. Maxine sounds like my grandson, solving problems in her own way. Can’t wait to read your new Maxine.

I like the idea of channeling my toddler’s ability to repeat the same question over and over until a story idea is born! 🙂

Thanks so much for your post!

From a former chemist, thank you for introducing young children to science! How awesome!

Great questions to ask to turn ideas into stories. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

“Connecting the dots” with the “what does that make me think of” question is excellent! Thanks for a terrific post, Ruth.

Wonderful post! One of my daughters IS Maxine and *spoiler alert* she grew up to be a mechanical engineer.

I love the advice to take a deep dive. Thank you.

Such a big fan of your STEM baby books, Ruth! Great post.

This sounds like the perfect tip to try on a long car ride!

Funny thing is that the quote made me think of a children”s early chapter book I just read – Sheep and Goat by Marleen Westera, Illustrated by Sylvia van Ommen. It’s such a simple and sweet story with that little edge because Sheep often proclaims that Goat gets in her way.

My own list off this quote brought in more personal experiences with people who had gotten in my way after this, that mirrored the political,,, which is very interesting to me. How to get to the base level of being able to share the limelight with others, how to shine our own lights without stealing them, and one by one, transforming how we all interact… might make for less interesting stories in future, but what a delightful world that would be!

Reminded me of the simple ways these big issues might show up for children .. and knowing how Westera solved them in the story is useful to remember, and asking that question. How did other writers solve that? How would I solve it?

Thanks so much for sharing your thought process and how it ties in to your writing process, Ruth! And I love the photo of the squirrel eating your pumpkin!! ❤

This is great Ruth! Reminds me of the “why why” analysis used in manufacturing to get to the root cause of an issue- but I never thought to use it in picture books!

Thanks for your brainstorming tips! Lucky you, getting to meet John Lewis, a true hero.

Your books are always a treat to read! Looking forward to finding out how Maxine deals with those pesky garden “guests’!

Wonderful to get insight on your thought process. What a gift.

Thanks for sharing your thought process. I am going to tackle the list of my ideas now!

“What does this make me think of?” Love the journey of ideas you share. Thank you!

Thank you for sharing!

What great questions: how can I get in the way, and what does that make me think of. Thanks for the inspiration.

Thank you for your suggestions and the books you’ve put out into the world. I definitely need to start asking my ideas more questions.

I’m fairly certain the question “What does this make me wonder?” will lead me to all kinds of exciting places. Thank you!

Wonderful suggestions and examples, Ruth, thank you so much. What does that make me think of? Love it.

Ruth, I really enjoyed your post today! And the ending has really stuck with me–thanks for sharing the quote “Find a way to get in the way!” Maxine also sounds like someone my kids would like to know–going to order the books right now!

I love your books. Thanks for sharing your process.

I had a rush of an idea that was based on the memory (something that happened when my kids were babies). Thank you for sharing.

Thank you, Ruth! I love that you are bringing smart books to young readers!

Great blog post Ruth. Looking forward to reading your books. This has already given me a couple ideas for one of my current stories. So thanks so much.

Best,
Debbie Lodato

I loved this approach–what a great way to get to the Big Idea! Thanks, Ruth!

Love your post so much and Maxine is awesome, so excited to see what she does in your new book. Thank you!

Love how you follow a chain of questioning to find one to write about. Thanks for sharing!

Isn’t it ironic that we tell children often to not “be in the way” and yet, the great John Lewis tells us to “find a way to get in the way”. Perhaps adults need to rethink their messaging to children.

Thanks for sharing your brainstorming technique. Asking questions is a great way to come up with fresh ideas that stem from genuine curiosity.

I really like this technique and have some ideas I would like to develop by connecting the dots!

Very inspiring. Thank you Ruth!

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your process!

Fantastic post! Thank you for the practical tips.

Sometimes we are focus on create a character, and we forget to question us “What does that make me think of?”as you mention with the example of the garden. Thanks Ruth for help us to write more meaningful.

Thanks, Ruth. Your post is helping me brainstorm possible solutions for a hole in my story.

Asking questions is a great strategy. Thank you!

Thank you for sharing your process! Can’t wait to ask myself these questions!

What a fabulous post! Thank you for these concrete examples!

I loved that scene in Working Girl, and the connection to your post. Thank you.

I love your books! This explanation and process of questioning is so helpful. Thank you!

I love that you have a book on thermodynamics for babies. You can never start that subject too young. Thanks for your suggestions!

Love hearing about your process. Thanks for sharing! We are looking forward to the second Maxine book! Youngest grandchild is a huge fan of the first.

Love it! Made me think of lessons I’ve learned in gardening!

Seeing where those questions lead me today. Thank you, Ruth! Love the BABY LOVES series!!

I can’t wait to read baby loves political science!

Thank you

What a great method to find a story out of a glimmer of an idea!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Thank you! The ideas are already flowing! And now I want to watch Working Girl again for the millionth time. I’ve got a real “fire in my belly!”

Love, love the Baby Loves series!

This post makes me think of so many things! Thank you! 🙂

I must ask myself, shat does my idea make me think of? Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

Great ideas for brainstorming. Thank you for sharing your published book stories with us.

Thanks for sharing your process!

Thank you for sharing your trail from ideas to story.

What does it make me wonder! Love it

I can’t wait to meet Maxine! Thank you for this great idea!

Thanks for the tips on how to develop story ideas. Your books sound amazing.

That wondering, wandering road is so fun to follow! Thanks for your thoughts on the paths that lead us to our stories!

Now I want to write about that cheeky squirrel 😀

Love the Baby Loves books! Thank you for sharing your process with us, Ruth. 🙂

Thanks for this inspiration!

Find a way to get in the way.

Ask questions + connect the dots = Big Idea. Love this! Thanks, Ruth.

Thank you so very much for these seeds of inspiration, Ruth!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Thank you. Great question(s) to help to connect the dots.

Nice prompt to get the juices flowing.

Idea generator…on! Thanks for the inspiration!


I love reading your comments and hearing your opinion.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: