I am a collector of quotes. I love words, and I love when someone uses them to express themselves in a manner that might move me, satisfy me, or inspire me to think. I’ve been throwing lots of clippings into a Reading & Literature folder, but have not shared any of them for a long time. So, for authors of children’s and young adult books, and parents, teachers and librarians responsible for book selection, here’s some food for thought.
Today’s quote comes from an essay by Betty Carter, a professor of young adult’s and children’s literature, published in the July/August 2010 issue of The Horn Book Magazine . Reflecting on what happens when young people read and find books or genres they love, Carter writes:
What they’re doing is engaging in a pleasant leisure activity, one that requires them to move their eyes across print and thus strengthen their basic skills. They’re also beginning to discover features in and genres of books that they want to read—or not read—in the future.
Reading, however, cannot compete in a child’s contemporary world only as a diversion; it must provide a bonus that other media don’t. The complexity and depth of fine books help children discover what they’re always looking for: a way to make sense of themselves and their world.
What a tremendous responsibility lies on the shoulders of people who write and publish for children and young adults! It makes me think twice about the stories I intend to write, how I want to tell them, and what kind of worldview I will present in my telling, because when published, whether written only to entertain or not, whatever I, or you, write will have an impact on growing and maturing minds. The same goes for every book we choose to place in a young person’s hands.
What books do you think would make great companions along the journey to adulthood? What guides you as a writer in crafting what you want to say? What guides you as a parent, teacher, or librarian in selecting the books you do for your collections?