Six Questions with Dr. Betty Choi
Dr. Betty Choi is a pediatrician, mother, and the author of Human Body Learning Lab (Storey Publishing, 2022), a fun, hands-on anatomy book for middle-grade readers. Her greatest passion is making learning relevant, accessible, and memorable for families. Learn more about Dr. Choi and say hello at drbettychoi.com!
1. Where did you get the idea for Human Body Learning Lab? What was your inspiration?
My children and my patients!
For years, I wished I had better health resources to share with families. I’ve heard thoughtful questions like:
What does my heartbeat sound like?
Why am I having trouble falling asleep?
Why do people have different skin colors?
I’ve also heard kids say: “I wish science wasn’t so hard.” “I don’t understand how my friend got sick.” “I wish I had a grown-up to talk to about this stuff.”
Kids learn best when information is linked with experience. So, I started to brainstorm book ideas that would be helpful, practical, and fun. My children were a big part of the process, and together we came up with fun anatomy projects and experiments.
2. How did you know that Human Body Learning Lab would make a good book?
In the beginning of the pandemic, when people everywhere were homeschooling, wondering about their health, and trying to stay safe from contagious germs, I realized there were no hands-on human body books with real photos or realistic illustrations.
In Human Body Learning Lab, the scientific facts are kid-friendly, the images feature diverse children, and the activities involve simple household materials.
3. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?
When I was in medical school (almost 20 years ago!), I began to have fleeting thoughts about writing a children’s anatomy book. In 2017, I started to keep track of some of my family’s learning activities and meaningful discussions. In 2020, Storey Publishing reached out to me and invited me to pitch my manuscript proposal! Once we became official, I was excited about organizing and streamlining the scattered drafts I had been saving.
While completing my manuscript, I also had to sketch and prepare image concepts for my illustrator and art director. The manuscript was finalized in May 2022. The release date is November 22, 2022.
4. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing and researching Human Body Learning Lab?
As a working mom, time is always my biggest challenge. Anyone who’s the primary caregiver can relate to the demands of household tasks plus the unpredictability of the schedule. Doctor’s appointments often take longer than expected, appliances break, and the list goes on.
Although my husband works very intense and long hours, I’m so thankful that he is as involved as possible with our family. On the weekends, he’s usually cooking and taking the kids out, especially if I need to catch up on writing. My husband is also my best friend, and we try our best to work together as a team.
5. Do you ever struggle to come up with your next project? Or do you have lots of ideas and find it a challenge to narrow down your ideas?
I have to admit that I have too many tabs open in my brain! While narrowing down ideas can be tough, I like having different passion projects to choose from.
6. What are you working on? What’s next for you?
My website, HumanBodyLearning.com, serves as an extension of my book. I’m excited about sharing printable anatomy activities plus favorite learning toys and other science book recommendations for kids!
I also have a bilingual parenting website, ChalkAcademy.com, which has positive parenting tips, printable activities, media recommendations (books, music, shows), for families learning English, Chinese, and Korean.