I’ve dabbled in writing since childhood. So many elaborate stories long forgotten spoken to one’s self in moments of daydreaming and quiet contemplation. Later, well-thumbed notebooks and scattered sheets of paper filling folders that gather in boxes. A linear thinker, I am not. Perhaps that may be an advantage when dreaming the impossible and inventing the improbable. But nonlinearity is never a friend of organization.
Organization is one major goal for 2015. I’ve heard all the advice. Prioritizing a regular time for writing. Setting personal goals for word counts, revisions, and submissions. Taking a more proactive role with online writer’s groups, local critique groups, and regional and national writer’s conferences. Plus, reading…reading…reading.
Children’s books are a particular longtime passion. This passion stems in part from the importance of literature to a growing mind and my long-vested interest in the general health and welfare of children through my career as a pediatrician and my role as a parent and advocate. Books are among the first tactile and visual means of making sense of one’s world. Archeologists strive their entire careers to find ancient scrolls and writing from past civilizations as representative evidence of where we came from and where we might be going. By nature, children are archeologists and scientists. Children can see through artifice and condescending voices. We should not let them down.
We owe children the finest representation of our written worlds.
Books ignite memories. Books inspire. Books embrace. Books challenge. Books inform. Books allow readers to travel around many universes and deep within themselves. But even before great institutions like the ancient Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt in the 3rd century B.C., memorable tales were told through art, images, and the spoken word.
Sharing stories together provides a link in the continuous human chain of connectedness.
Besides obvious enjoyment, reading aloud to a child enhances children’s language proficiency and processing speed. Research shows that reading aloud has benefits even with teens. This was a common practice for the entire family before the dawn of modern technology. Reading aloud shouldn’t stop when a child has learned to read. Some children have actually feigned an inability to read just so their parents would continue reading to them. Even the Academy of Pediatrics has been vocal in supporting the value of reading aloud.
Non-profit organizations like Reach Out And Read and First Book, along with other organizations like Reading Rainbow and the American Library Association are among some of the staunch advocates for child literacy. The New York Public Library recently published a list of their 100 Great Children’s Books of 100 Years that coincided with the NYC exhibit held recently on children’s literature. Local libraries, schools, and bookstores have long supported child literacy even as more bookstores and libraries close and only 31% of children 3-17 years of age read for fun.
Societal issues add further difficulties. Children in affluent families are exposed to 30 million more words by age three than children in poorer families . The family unit has shifted too with 30% of U.S. children living with only a single parent and an additional 5% of children living with an adult other than a parent. Lives are stressful. How can writers better support families and childhood literacy?
Above my desk hang five brass plaques each with a single embossed letter that together represent everything important to me about my writing journey. This word serves as my daily reminder.
The power of story. Story is in the DNA of our past, present, and future. Every time you share a story, whether your own, or a beloved book or tale, it helps sustain the human chain of connectedness. So do it now. It’s likely that each of us can recall a book in our childhood that continues to speak to us. Stories can transform lives.
What books spoke to YOU?
Furthermore…What stories do you have within you waiting to be added to our human chain?
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney