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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - BARBARA BIETZ

I'm so happy to highlight my friend and fellow #BookMeshuggenah, Barbara Bietz. I loved reading about how her life experiences in California and Arizona inspired her Jewish-themed picture books. Also, her book about creativity is a must for all homes, schools, and libraries! Read on for Barbara's thoughts about stories, creativity, and connection. Welcome, Barbara!

STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

I am inspired by Jewish life, family, history, and community. I think stories are most impactful when they reflect relatable, universal emotions. But the stories I write have to connect with me, personally. For example, I have two picture books that take place in the Old West – THE SUNDOWN KID and SWEET TAMALES FOR PURIM. It is a bit of an unusual setting for a Jewish story. But I was born and raised in California and also lived in Arizona for many years. There is a deep Jewish history in these communities that needs to be celebrated. Through stories, I am able to honor those who came before me and hopefully share a meaningful slice of life with young readers.

CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?

I truly enjoy researching and writing books for children. I have a blog where I feature authors, illustrators, editors, and more. I love celebrating others in the Jewish children’s literature community! I am also the Assistant Regional Advisor to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in my Cen-Cal Region. And, when no one is listening I play guitar!

My newest book, DIJ - Do-It-Jewish - Use Your Jewish Creativity, gave me an opportunity to connect with a wide variety of artists and creatives. Their passion and commitment to their own creativity is so inspiring to me! A creative life can be challenging but is so meaningful, made more so by being surrounded by other creative people. Community is essential to my creative process.

CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?

I love doing school visits and meeting young readers, even on ZOOM! I stay connected through my blog, social media, and being involved in organizations like the Association of Jewish Libraries and SCBWI. And, one of my favorite ways to stay connected is through The Book Meshuggenahs! I also have an amazing critique group that helps me to stay motivated and engaged! We support each other through successes and disappointments. I can't imagine a writing life without them.


Barbara Bietz is an award-winning author, educator, and Assistant Regional Advisor to SCBWI Central California. Raised in Southern California, Barbara attended the University of Arizona where she earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Education. She formerly served as the chair for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, which honors exceptional works about the Jewish experience. Barbara runs the popular blog, Jewish Books for Kids where she interviews authors, illustrators, and other creatives involved in children’s literature. She is also a member of The Book Meshuggenahs, a resource for the Jewish community, providing and promoting high quality, diverse, Jewish-themed children’s books, educational resources, and opportunities, including two annual free contests for children and adults to share their creativity and good deeds.


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