The freedom to read any books you want at any time is a privilege. I grew up in the small town of Jilin, China during the Cultural Revolution. At that time, China was a cultural desert. There wasn't a single library in our town. All Western and Chinese traditional arts and literature were considered without virtue and were forbidden. People read Mao's little red book at school and in their workplaces. We had no TV, only radio, and occasionally, Russian movies. Reading was my escape. I read not only Mao's book and text books, but every single book I could get my hands on. I was fascinated by the beauty and power of a good story and dreamed of being a writer when I grew up.
I came to the United States in 1996 to advance my education. Even though I loved stories, I chose to major in Computer Science. After receiving my Masters degree in computer science from DePaul University, I worked as a Software Engineer for Motorola. When my twin daughters were born, I became a stay-at-home mom and read to my daughters every day.
My curious nature and engineering background steered me towards STEM themed books. I chose nonfiction books along with fiction books on each library trip as I wanted my girls to learn something besides being entertained. Noticing how few children books about Chinese culture existed, and none of them being STEM related, I decided to write one myself.
My first book, A Case of Sense, is about a greedy man who tries to make his neighbors pay for the delicious aromas that come from his yard. A clever judge uses his wise and convincing logic to close the case with another sense. It is a part of the Creative Mind Series of Arbordale Publishing.
In my second book Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant, I tell the tale of seven-year-old Cao Chong, a famous Chinese child prodigy who lived around 2,000 years ago. He used creative thinking and a science principle (buoyancy) to determine the weight of an elephant. My book was one of Best STEM book of NASA in 2018.
My newest book, Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a cure for Malaria is a biography of the first Chinese woman Nobel laureate. Tu Youyou used her background in traditional Chinese medicine to develop a new medicine, saving millions of lives.
I love to share my rich Chinese culture and my STEM interests with young readers. I am proud to be a voice for STEM from the foot of the Great Wall.
Thank you for joining us today, Songju. Last month I reviewed her newest book, Tu Youyou's Discovery. A couple years earlier, I read Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant. You can visit Songju's website here.