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May 9, 2019

Kaira Rouda: My Mother Read to Me, But She Did So Much More

Posted by tom

Kaira Rouda follows up the success of her 2017 thriller, BEST DAY EVER, with THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, which releases on May 21st. Kaira’s mother was a preschool teacher who “knew the power of creative play and learning.” She encouraged young Kaira to engage in all kinds of fun (and sometimes messy) activities, like finger-painting, building block towers and getting her hands in Play-Doh, but she also made sure to read to her at night. Kaira believes that this early exposure to arts and crafts, along with constant access to age-appropriate books, power her imagination to this day --- and she has proudly passed that creativity on to her four children, all of whom are successful and gifted twentysomethings.


I believe creativity is a gift. Mine is a gift from my mom.

Yes, most of us arrive on the planet with a curiosity and an eagerness to get messy and to play. Some of us are lucky to have this natural creativity nurtured from an early age. My mom, a former preschool teacher, knew the power of creative play and learning. As a youngster, I finger-painted, built block towers and so much more. Some of my favorite early memories involve being covered in some sort of mess --- paint, sand, Play-Doh, water --- and loving it. At night, before bed, there was always a story. I believe those arts and crafts combined with the bedtime stories --- and access to age-appropriate books at all times as I grew up --- power my imagination to this day. Give kids craft supplies and a library bursting with good books, and you have the recipe for a creative kid.

I modeled that behavior for my children. My four kids were raised in a messy, crafty household. Every vacation I’d pack a box of supplies for them to create on the go, whether in the backseat of our van or on an airplane. (I know this was before the ever-present screens of today, but give it a try if you can.) They would anxiously await the chance to open each trip’s box and discover the craft supplies inside. One of my favorite things to tuck inside was an empty notepad, a blank slate for words and images. Even for a relatively short drive to our lake house --- the setting for BEST DAY EVER, by the way --- the kids would craft in the car. Time flies when you’re creating.

This was just the beginning of a story they continue to tell to this day.

Today, my four kids are in their 20s. My daughter is a screenwriter, my youngest son is a singer/songwriter. My other two sons both work in commercial real estate, and they create on the side. My oldest son is a gifted photographer and visual designer, and my middle son wrote and published a book in high school and has launched several startups in the online world. I like to think that my kids’ art-filled childhood contributed to their grown-up lives. I know mine did.

Creativity is intelligence having fun, and creativity in the form of visual arts and literature go hand in hand. I still hear my mom’s voice reading “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” to me as I fell asleep as a child. And I remember the sunshine on my shoulders as I stood at my wooden easel and created my masterpiece as a three-year-old. I owe these warm memories, my appreciation for the beauty around us and my life as a creative person all to my mom.


Kaira also has written "A Mother's Day: A Short Story" that you can access for free here. Mary's son is an autistic teen. Julie's son is a precocious 10-year-old. Lynne's son is six months old. None of the moms realize it, but on this one day, one tragic act will connect them, reawakening each woman to her own special gifts, while strengthening her love for her own son.