About Kate

Kate Coombs, Bookworm
You can see I was already determined to have a LOT of books!

I’m a lifelong bookworm, which is the best way to learn to be an author. When my siblings and I were young, our parents read two to four books to us every night at bedtime. We read the rest of the time, too! Once when I was about three my dad, who was getting his doctoral degree in sociology, decided to conduct a little experiment on me: how long would I listen to him read stories before I got tired of it? Well, his voice ran out before I did!

As a bookworm, I found that sometimes my parents and teachers interrupted my reading in order to get me to do other things, like eat or sleep or do schoolwork or chores. Bookworms have to develop strategies for dealing with these people! There’s the “read your book under the edge of your desk at school” technique, the “hide out in the backyard reading when you’re supposed to be vacuuming,” tactic, and the “read under the covers with a flashlight instead of sleeping” move. That last one quickly became a problem when my little sister ratted me out. I resorted to taking my book to the bathroom late at night and reading for hours, cleverly surmising that my sleeping parents might hear me get up and go to the bathroom, but wouldn’t catch on that I never came back.

Kate Coombs, Bookworm
Apparently the plan was to eat my toast while reading my book, carrying my clarinet, and riding my bike to school.

In between reading, I babysat my little brother and sister, learned to play the clarinet and oboe, took art classes, went camping, and began to write. I wrote little plays with parts like the Glorious Queen for me and the Quiet Servant Girl for my sister. During my Nancy Drew reading phase, I wrote a mystery with a heroine who was eerily similar to Nancy. After I was about 10, I mostly wrote poetry.

In high school, I considered becoming a professional oboist or an artist, but I ended up majoring in English when I got to college. I had never stopped reading children’s books, and I used to study in the college library right next to the children’s bookshelves so I could take breaks to read those books. They were way more fun than my class assignments! I began writing short stories in my twenties, almost always fantasy. I also kept writing poetry.

Arabian Nights
My grandma gave me a book of tales from the Arabian Nights when I was eight or nine, and I used to tell my little sister the stories in bed at night.

After college I worked as an editor and an educator. I got a bilingual teaching credential in Los Angeles, where I taught lots of little Latino kids. Later I worked as a home teacher, driving around L.A. to teach seriously ill students. I’ve taught college writing classes, too, which means I’ve taught students in grades K through 13. Most recently, I got a master’s degree as a Reading Specialist so I can help students who are having a real struggle learning to read. I now live in Utah, where the snow still seems surprising every year and the deer hang out in our backyard.

A Child's Garden of VersesAlong the way to becoming a children’s book author, I wrote a lot and sent in many submissions. After several years, I sold one of my original fairy tales, The Secret-Keeper. I also wrote two funny middle grade fantasies: The Runaway Princess and The Runaway Dragon. Of course, I had never stopped writing poetry, so I was thrilled to sell my first poetry collection, Water Sings Blue, a book of ocean poems. It even won a major award! Since then, I’ve written five more picture books and two more poetry collections, along with a number of board books. I am still a bookworm, but I am also an author, and both things make me very happy!

Kate loves taking pictures!

Blue Drama
I have taken many photos of clouds. I even belong to the International Cloud Appreciation Society.
Clouds Over Green Hills
These clouds look like they’re about to squash those hills flat.
Gauzy Cloud Vision
This picture seems gauzy to me, like a dream of clouds.
The Golden Hour
I had heard of the golden hour, but this is the only time I’ve ever gotten a photo of it.
Clouds and Black Trees
I also love trees. They have the most amazing shapes!

What do you take pictures of?

Six Fun Facts

  • My dad used to call me Kate the Great.

  • When I see a dry leaf on the sidewalk, I go out of my way to step on it and hear the crunch.

  • I have six brothers and sisters. We’re all adopted and from different ethnic backgrounds.

  • I can flicker my nostrils really well.

  • My favorite color is the blue-green at the top of an ocean wave when it catches the light just before it falls.

  • I used to own 2,000 books, but I moved and got it down to 1,000 (rather painfully!).

Author Visits and Tutoring

Kate is available for author visits on Zoom.  Kate is also a reading specialist and writing teacher. She has taught every grade from K through 13 and has a master’s degree in teaching children with reading difficulties. Kate is available for individualized reading instruction in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area and for individual, small group, or home school writing instruction on Zoom.

Kate Coombs Tutoring