Interview with Author Susan Silverstein-Kaufman about her children’s book “Louis Learns to Listen NOT!”


Interview by Krista Martinelli

I had a wonderful chat with Susan Silverstein-Kaufman about her children’s book and how it came to be.  I must admit, I was especially interested in the origins of her book and how she got published, as I am in a children’s book writing group. Susan was inviting, easy to talk with and full of stories.   She told me that the book started out as a love letter for her grandchildren Darcy and Gemma, who are now 5 and 8 years old.

By the way, Susan Silverstein-Kaufman was a school administrator at 29 years old. She has won numerous awards for innovative programs and has pioneered inclusion workshops at the School Board Conventions.  You might recognize her from CBS news, as well as many other media outlets. 

AW: Where did you get the idea for the character of Louis, a boy who doesn’t listen? 

SSK: In 2nd grade, there was a boy who would always try to kiss the girls. His name was Louis. Of course, he didn’t listen.  In this book, the family is visiting different states for different adventures.  Some of the stories are based on real life. 

I would tell my grandchildren Gemma and Darcy bedtime stories about this mischievous character Louis.  Often, I would research facts on the Internet before telling them the bedtime stories, facts about places to visit, historical facts. 

Susan Silverstein-Kaufman with her granddaughters

AW: Is this a self-published book?  Or who published it?

SSK: AuthorHouse published it.  I sent the book out to three publishers, and they decided to move forward with it.

AW: As a school administrator for most of your career, what is something you have learned about dealing with difficult students?

SSK: It takes patience and listening. You must give them a path to success.  It involves collaborating with the family and with staff members.  I was at one of the first schools in New Jersey with an Inclusion Program. We were fortunate to have a boy with Downs Syndrome, who had the same aide from kindergarten through 12th grade.  His family was persistent about having him integrate with the normal grades from K-12 and not having him pulled out to go to a special school.  It worked out and was a success story.  You just have to have buy-in and understanding from all of the parties involved. 

AW: That’s great that 10% of net proceeds go to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.  How did you decide to do this?

SSK: I was very impressed with a program called Read to Know and I volunteered at the WIC program. I got involved and used to set up little reading centers – and every child received a free book.  Down here in Florida, I contacted the Literary Coalition of Palm Beach County.  They invited me to come see their programs in action.  I decided to give back. 

AW: What age range were you aiming for with this book?

SSK:I was aiming for 8- to 12-year-olds, thinking that they would be the most engaged.

AW: According to you, what’s the moral of the story?

SSK:Of course, it’s “Mother Knows Best.”  Also, as a side benefit, the young audiences get a little bit of geography with fun facts.

AW: Yes, you give a lot of fun facts about tourist attractions within the book.  Do you find that young children pick up on those facts and remember them?

SSK:Yes.  I tested the story on my grandkids.  They would ask me, “Bubby, where’s Louis going to go next?” They loved learning about new places.  We did a lot of reading via Facetime.  And I would play with them via Facetime, buying some of the same toys.  I must have at least ten Barbie dolls. 

AW: What’s your hope for this book?

SSK: I hope it’s something that will bring families together.