Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
18 November, 2019

Visiting Author Margriet Ruurs

Read. You can’t be a writer if you don’t read. So, go to the library and read picture books, even if you’re in grade 8 read picture books, even if you’re in grade 10 read picture books
Margriet Ruurs
Margriet Ruurs
Visiting Author Margriet Ruurs Margriet Ruurs

Award-winning author Margriet Ruurs paid visit to our school as part of the Nord Anglia Education Global Campus programme. Our team of NAE student journalists Albane (Yr10), Clara (Yr 8), Louisa and Kaylie (Yr 5), reported on her visit in the school blog below. Happy reading!


Last week we interviewed author Margriet Ruurs, asking various questions about her life and the books she writes. She came to La Côte International School as part of the Nord Anglia Education writing competition that centers around the theme of home. She shared several of the stories she wrote, but the one we focused on is a book called Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey, which tells the story of a refugee family through illustrations made with rocks.

Mrs. Ruurs said that it was this beautiful art that inspired her to write. She found it while browsing on Facebook one day and was compelled to try to link this rock art together to form a story, saying that “what really inspired me was the art.” The illustrator, Nizar Ali Badr, is from Syria, so the story she wove reflects the journey of refugees but can be about anybody who’s had to leave home. She also wanted people to be aware of war and peace, and especially compassion.

One unique challenge Stepping Stones presented was that Mrs. Ruurs had to truly understand what it was like to be a refugee, and research her topic thoroughly. She didn’t want to “accidently make mistakes that could be insulting.” In order to solve this problem, she had refugees read the story.

We also asked a few questions about the general writing process, and how that may have been different with Stepping Stones. Writing this book was a bit quicker than usual since she already had the artwork to build up from and was able to research Syria more easily. However, it usually it takes her roughly two years to write a book.

Margriet Ruurs wrote Stepping Stones with the honorable intention of helping people feel more compassion, respect and understanding of someone, and to ensure they look past their outward appearance and first impressions. Mrs. Ruurs upon being asked the question “what do you hope for your book to do to young children?” rapidly answered: “to feel compassion towards people who you might at first glance think why are they here? To help people feel more compassion towards others, and to understand what it’s like to have to leave because of war and conflict.”

Her answer is as selfless as her emotional motivation and her physical action, which was to donate her earnings to refugees who were in very similar dangerous circumstances and who were plagued by similar worries as were described in her book. She also wanted her grandchildren to be aware of both war and peace, and that we are “so lucky to get to live in a safe place.”

Margriet Ruurs' evolution into becoming a writer was motivated by multiple occasions. When asked if she had always wanted to be an author, she remembered being handed a scribbler by her mother who then told her “write down all your poems in it”. Her second motivation was a writing competition that took place at her school when she was young. And, her final motivation was quite simply her kids. Reading picture books to them inspired her to write her own stories.

Mrs. Ruurs also talked about why she writes children’s books. She says “adult books are so boring!” and she loves to entertain kids with her books, “I just love being able to share funny stories,” not boring books that don’t entertain people!

Although she doesn’t often suffer from writing block, she says her “problem is I have too many ideas and not enough time.” If she does get stuck, she usually goes for a walk to clear her head and think about different ways to write the story.

Finally, when dealing with criticism, she says it’s important to remain determined. “I was rejected 17 times...” for My Librarian is a Camel, but she held on to her faith in it. Any aspiring writer must do the same.

The successful writer (she insists saying she is an author sounds boring) was generous enough to share helpful advice on writing for aspiring young writers. She stated practically immediately that to be a true writer, it is advisable to read. Actually, her exact words were: “.” 

Margriet Ruurs has come a long way from publishing her first book in the 1980s. It is a great privilege that she was able to share her knowledge and wisdom on writing with students at our school.

Written by:

Albane Year 10

Clara Year 8

Louisa Year 5

Kaylie Year 5