In honor of this month's Carnival of Children's Literature, host Anne-Marie Nichols of A Readable Feast has asked participants to write about "What are you thankful for in children's literature?". My initial thought on this topic was: "What am I not thankful for? I would be at a loss without children's books." But I took some time to come up with a few specifics:
- To begin, I'm thankful to my parents and my grandmother for providing me with books from a very early age. Since I could turn the pages of a book, I've been able to entertain myself, and I've been privileged to visit numerous fictional worlds in the years since.
- I'm thankful to Mrs. Tuttle, my elementary school librarian at Harrington School, for nurturing my love of books, and making the library a home away from home for me. If I had paid better attention to the feeling of home that Mrs. Tuttle's library gave me, I'm sure that I'd be a librarian now.
- I'm thankful to authors like J. K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket and Rick Riordan, for writing books that get kids excited about reading. I think that by writing stories that grab kids' attention and don't let go, these authors (and others) have helped build a future generation of readers. The importance of this simply cannot be overstated. Kids who enjoy reading when they are 12 are much more likely to do well in school and to go on to college. They will even have better math skills. This means that they will have more options in life. And, if the reading habit stays with them, they'll never be bored, either.
- I'm also thankful to the other children's and young adult authors out there who aren't selling millions of copies of their books (yet), and who keep plugging away, providing the world with treasure after treasure. I love knowing that there is a right book for every child, and that every day, my "to be read" pile offers untold wonders.
- I'm thankful for the way that a shared love of children's literature has made me closer to many of the people in my life. I have particularly enjoyed talking about the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books with one of my nieces, and reading Shel Silverstein with another. I think that these books have helped bridge the 3000 mile distance between us. Similarly, children's books have made me closer to my 12-year-old friend in Austin, and to her mother, as the three of us share, discuss, and recommend children's (and now young adult) books. I've strengthened my connection with several of my friends who have children since starting my blog, because we talk about the books that their children are reading, or might enjoy.
- I'm thankful for the new friends that I've made through this blog, people who share my irrepressible passion for children's books. This has been immensely comforting, because I always thought that I was a tiny bit odd to be an adult reader of children's books. (I may still be odd, but at least I'm not alone in this particular quirk.) The kidlitosphere has also been a gateway into interesting discussions, and rewarding new books and ideas that I would never have discovered on my own.
- Finally, I'm thankful to Anne-Marie for giving me this opportunity for reflection. I highly recommend that all of you other kidlitosphere types take her up on this assignment. I've found it very rewarding.
Happy Children's Book week, and (for next week) Happy Thanksgiving!
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.