Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Author Sarah Campbell likes to combine her love for words, children and science in her books and seeks to spark kids' interest in the world of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
A native of Evanston, Ill., Campbell moved to Mississippi with her family when she was 7. She earned a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University in England. After completing her undergraduate and graduate education, she returned to Mississippi with her husband, Richard, where she has been living now for 27 years.
Campbell worked as a reporter for local newspapers while living in Jackson, but after the birth of her third son in 1999, she transitioned to writing children's books.
She says she looked at what she was doing most, which was reading to her sons. "We were reading great books and going to libraries and checking out the newest stuff," she says. "I thought to myself, 'This is great research. I could learn to write like this.'"
One day, she made an important discovery with her middle son Nathan.
"He found a wolfsnail," she says. "We started on this incurably fun odyssey of finding out what this snail does. The first thing we did was go to the library and try to find a book, and we couldn't find one. I saw that as an opening in the market. I wrote about it for Highlights, a children's magazine."
The editor at Highlights was also the science editor for Boyds Mills Press and helped get her first book, "Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator," published through Boyds Mills Press.
Along her journey, Campbell fell in love with macro photography, which led her to the topic of her second book, "Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature"—patterns in nature. Her third book is about fractals: "Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature." She is currently writing her fourth book, "Infinity," which delves into the science and math behind the concept of infinity.
She says that much of what fuels her writing is her own curiosity.
"I love to learn new things," she says. "Writing about it in this way, I have to get a really deep understanding to explain it simply enough for a young audience."
The concepts that she presents in her books may seem complex to some people, but Campbell says she simplifies it enough to get kids excited about math, technology and science.
"Essentially, all of these are shapes," she says. "We teach shapes to elementary school kids. Why not teach fractals?"
Campbell also is the assistant regional adviser for the Louisiana and Mississippi region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and volunteers in the community through public schools in Jackson. Her oldest son, Graeme, recently graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in engineering and computer science. Her middle son, Nathan, is at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., studying biomedical engineering, and the youngest, Douglas, is at Swarthmore College studying math and computer science.
"My passion is with little ones first learning to read, getting excited about these ideas," Campbell says. "I had curious kids and was one myself. I like for my books to feed that interest and spark that kind of magic and sense of wonder."
For more information on the author, visit sarahccampbell.com.