I do a little regular work for Xiaoduo Media, writing science and tech articles for young readers in China (somebody else translates them, thank goodness).
Recently they had me do a little Q&A for their readers, which I had fun with as usual. I don’t know when it’s going to run, but at any rate I figured I’d share it here.
1. What do you think about writing articles for children?
I’ve always preferred writing for young readers. In some ways, adults are a little boring, but children are really interesting and fun. All through school, you’re exploring the world, trying to make sense of everything, but having fun, too. It’s not easy to be a kid, of course, and if I had a time machine I would want to go back and fix a lot of things when I was in junior high, because ugh that was an awful time. So I have a lot of respect for you guys and what you go through. I would rather write for children than adults. Any time some adult asks, “You’ve written all these kid books but when are you going to write a real book?” I tell them, “These books ARE real, and you’re kind of being a jerk.” Actually I don’t tell them the last part.
2. What is your advice for children to keep reading? For example, which kind of articles or books you would recommend them to read?
Oh, whatever interests you. When I was a kid, I read a lot of books but also spent a lot of time with a book called Missouri Wildflowers because I loved hunting wildflowers and finding out what their names were. These days, it’s articles about social justice and how we should show respect to all classes and races of people. Read about what you love, about stuff that interests you. That’s the stuff that matters.
3. What do you think about the role of science reading for children’s development?
DO IT DO IT DO IT, just read! Ha ha, I get a little crazy about this, sorry. The tough part is finding good science writing, so I’m glad this magazine exists.
4. What do you think about the science development in the future or do you have any opinion on science ethics?
I used to be a horticulturist, so I’m really interested in what’s happening in taxonomy and how animals, plants, and other living things are being ordered through DNA, and how scientists are trying to determine where in the evolutionary tree each genus developed. Some people (especially in America) cling to the old ideal of the Great Chain of Being, where humans rank higher than animals. But really, it’s more like the Great Tree of Being, where every species rises from another, and we are more deeply connected because of it. Instead of humans being king, we’re all brothers and sisters. Good science, and a good understanding of science, makes us change our worldview, often for the better.
5. Maybe you have some words for Xiaoduo’s readers?
Yes, and here they are: Flibbertygibbet! Shazbot! Nitpick! Polywog. Thank you.