Children’s award winning author Cynthia Lord told us, a 600+ audience of teachers and librarians, at a recent Children’s Literature Conference at Western Washington University in Bellingham, that she grew up loving words in a family that loved math. She said she aspired to be a writer when she witnessed her 3rd grade teacher starting to cry when she read a story out loud to the class. Words, she saw, could move people. Moving and poignant is her novel, Rules, which won the prestigious Newbery Medal of the American Library Association and cemented her career. It was written because her daughter asked why there were no books for families like theirs—the ones working through the joys and challenges of an autistic sibling.
Illustrator and author Peter Brown recounted his inspiration coming from his grandfather, called Grumps, who was an artist. At age 5, Peter saw Grumps as “an old man making art,” and would say to himself, “Someday I want to be him.” In pursuing this passion, Brown has created a slew of popular picture books, many winning significant awards and honors: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Creepy Carrots, You Will Be My Friend, Children Make Terrible Pets, and The Curious Garden.
In a day full of fine speakers, the final speaker — graphic artist and author, Gene Luen Yang — stood out. His first career as a high school teacher informs his work, often hilariously. His lifelong love of books started out with a love affair with Marvel comics, notably one called the The Thing ROM. His book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award. His newest venture is a series aimed at elementary-aged kids to pique their interest in computer coding, called The Secret Coders. Now he’s busy on a speaking tour as the Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, inspiring kids to read and write.
How do writers write?
Author Lois Brandt, who recently held a writing workshop for parents and children at the Beacon Hill Library, recounted one story that stuck in her heart as a kid and later was fashioned into an award-winning picture book for children, called Maddi’s Fridge, a story about the problem of hunger solved through friendship.
The library hosts writing workshops like this throughout the year for children and adults. Check out the Seattle Writes brochure chock full of opportunities this spring.
Don’t miss the most famous writer of them all, William Shakespeare, whose First Folio will be on tour at the Central Library through April 17.
Be inspired. Words can indeed move people.
~posted by Diane C.