Happy World Book Night, everybody!
Today, on the birthday of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare, thousands of people all over the country and across the pond are giving out free copies of twenty-five outstanding books by twenty-five outstanding authors, graciously provided by the organization World Book Night America. I’ve spent the day handing out copies of Looking for Alaska by John Green1. Not sure how many of the people who I gave books to will actually read the books I give them, but still. I enjoy spreading the gift of reading.
Yesterday, in honor of World Book Day, I got to meet Neil Gaiman. This was a big, star-struck moment for me, because he is basically a literary god2. I was surprisingly coherent as he signed my book—we talked about children’s lit and Doctor Who.
He also said something wonderful during the Q&A, when I asked him how he approached writing children’s lit differently than writing adult lit. He said something to the effect of how he takes writing kid lit much more seriously than he takes writing adult lit, because of how immediate the possibility is that a children’s book will change someone’s life. When you write kidlit, you are writing stories that children are going to be carrying with them for literally the rest of their lives. It will always be stored somewhere inside of them, and a part of them that influences who they are. Children are so moldable, and the books they read have the potential to help them create person they are going to become.
All the while he was answering, I nodded and smiled while he answered, pretended like I was totally cool with the fact that NEIL GAIMAN was answering MY QUESTION and looking me RIGHT IN THE EYE. But really, I thought his answer was brilliant, and it reminded me of the following quotation. Which I found yesterday. On tumblr.
“They are not just simple kids’ books. They are stories that we are continuing to read even today. They’re stories that we remember years later, even when other stories fade from our memories. They’re stories we will never forget, and for good reason! They’re stories that helped shape our childhoods, through well thought-out writing, imaginative drawings and endearing morals…Maybe these “simple kids’ books” are far more adult than you give them credit for. And…years from now when kids AND adults will still be reading these “simple kids’ books.” Good art doesn’t come from focus groups and statistics. It comes from people who share how they see things in their own unique way.”
I love being part of this community of book creating and giving children books that will change them. I hope you all take a moment to think back on your favorite books as a child, and celebrate how they made you what you are today3.
Happy World Book Night, all. Now sit down and READ!
- While this is my least favorite of the John Green novels, even the least of John Green is excellent.
- He is also, as I learned last night, incredibly kind and humble. Which just makes him all the more awesome.
- Even if it’s in a negative way, like the fact that I still have stress dreams where I’m trapped in the cover of a Goosebumps novel. I never read Goosebumps, because the covers were too scary, but they still scared the crap out of me when I saw them displayed at the library. I was a very impressionable child.