Where do you live?
I live in a 1927 red brick English Tudor home in Homewood, Alabama. My office is in the attic. I call it my "treehouse." When I look out the window I see the tops of trees: elm, oak, pine, hackberry, and sweet gum. My writing desk faces out that window. I have been coming up here and writing poems and children's books for almost 40 years.
When and where were you born?
I was born August 25, 1946, in Bayside, Long Island, New York. My family moved to Fort Myers, Florida when I was five. I grew up in Fort Myers and moved to Alabama in 1974 when I was twenty-eight years old.
Where did you go to school?
I attended Tice Elementary School, Orange River Elementary School, Lee Junior High School, Fort Myers Junior High School, Fort Myers Senior High School, Edison College, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida State University.
What did you do before you became a children's author?
I taught high school English at Cypress Lake Senior High School in Fort Myers, Florida (1967-1973), creative writing at Edison College (1973), and served as poet-in-residence at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham (1974-1993).
How did you become a children's author?
I began writing poems when I was a kid. Some of my poems began appearing in literary magazines when I was in college. My first books of poems were published by university presses and small presses. I began writing poems for children just before my son was born. Some of those poems began appearing in children's magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, Ranger Rick, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Children's Digest and other magazines. I signed a four-book contract with the Walt Disney Company's Hyperion Books for Children in 1992. I left teaching the next year (1993) and have been writing full-time ever since.
How did you become Father Goose?
Many years ago when I first started visiting schools to read my poems and talk about poetry, students and teachers started calling me "Father Goose." The name stuck. One of my first books of poems for children is titled TICKLE DAY: POEMS FROM FATHER GOOSE. Fathers tell me they like to read poems from that book to their children. Children tell me they like the name Father Goose because it is easier to say than Mr. Ghigna. It is also easier to spell.
How many poems have you written?
I have been writing poems all my life. Besides my books for children and adults, I also wrote a syndicated poetry feature that appeared daily in newspapers for many years. I have written more than 5,000 poems. That number continues to grow each week.
How many books have you written and which one is your favorite?
I have written more than 60 books. One of my favorites is TICKLE DAY: POEMS FROM FATHER GOOSE. Most of the poems in that book were inspired by my son. Another one of my favorites is CHRISTMAS IS COMING. I wrote that book with my wife. MICE ARE NICE, ONE HUNDRED SHOES, OH MY, PUMPKIN PIE!, SNOW WONDER, BARN STORM, and SEE THE YAK YAK are also my favorites. They help young readers learn how to read. ANIMAL TRUNK: SILLY POEMS TO READ ALOUD and ANIMAL TRACKS: WILD POEMS TO READ ALOUD are also two of my favorites. ANIMAL TRUNK was illustrated by a famous Belgian artist and ANIMAL TRACKS was illustrated by an artist from London. RIDDLE RHYMES is also one of my favorite books. Children ask me to read those poems out loud to them so they can guess the answers to the riddles. GOOD CATS/BAD CATS and GOOD DOGS/BAD DOGS are also two of my favorite books. They have funny illustrations by one of my favorite artists, David Catrow. Children tell me that HALLOWEEN NIGHT: TWENTY-ONE SPOOKTACULAR POEMS is one of their favorites and teachers and coaches tell me that SCORE! 50 POEMS TO MOTIVATE AND INSPIRE is their favorite. Kindergarten teachers tell me their favorite books of mine are the ones in my three new series of books I SEE THE SEASONS, MY LITTLE PLANET and MY LITTLE SCHOOL HOUSE. My books are like children. They are all my favorites!
Is there a complete listing of your work available?
Yes! For information right here on my website, you can visit my books, magazines, and anthologies pages. Also, the de Grummond Children's Literature archive has a comprehensive listing of my works. This archive has an international reputation and is one of the most respected archives of its kind, and I am honored to be invited to send them my papers. Each year after the first of the year I send them all the latest manuscripts, correspondence, galley proofs, etc. that I have from that year. For more information about The de Grumond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, please click here: Charles Ghigna: de Grummond Children's Literature Archive.
Do you like to visit schools and read your poems?
Yes! I love visiting schools and libraries! It is always fun sharing in the wonder, excitement and joy of poetry with children. I have traveled the world sharing poems with children, from Florida to Alaska, from New York to California, from South America to Europe and beyond. I always arrive back home more inspired than ever ready to write more poems to share.
What are your hobbies?
My favorite hobby is writing and traveling. Writing is my vocation -- and my avocation! I also love reading, hiking, exploring, solving crossword puzzles, and collecting old picture books, especially Mother Goose books. I also have a growing gaggle of geese collectibles (figurines, statues and miniatures) that children, teachers, librarians, friends and family send me. I have geese all over my office, on my desk, shelves, filing cabinets, and on the top of my Victrola. At night when I turn out the lights and go downstairs they sneak around the room and visit each other. Sometimes I find them in different places other than where I left them. Sometimes I find more than I had the day before! Most of the time they are well-behaved.
Tell us something that most people don't know about you.
My last name, Ghigna, is Italian. I'm Irish-Italian-French-German and Native American. My great grandfather (maternal) was a full-blooded American Indian.
What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Buy a notebook and write in it every day. Write about something that happened that day or about your special thoughts. Write just a few sentences about anything you want to write about. Write as though you're talking to your best friend. Do that for two weeks and then stop -- if you can. If you can't, you're a writer! And no one no matter how hard they may try will ever be able to stop you from following your writing dreams. Enjoy those dreams. Follow them. Make new ones. Share them. Write of your passions, your loves, your fears, your joys. Find your writer's voice by listening deep inside. It's that little voice that says in a low, soft whisper, "Listen to this..."
ALSO: Please see the "How To Write A Poem" page of the Father Goose website. For more information about writing and publishing, visit The Purple Crayon.
Where do you get your ideas and what inspires you?
I'm inspired by little things, quiet moments. I listen and observe. I celebrate life. I pracetice gratitude. I take long walks. My inspiration and ideas come from Nature, children, pets, animals, family, friends, and from the real and imagined visions I see along my daily two-mile hike.
For information about school visits, conference talks, and library programs, email Father Goose at PaGoose@aol.com