Who are we writing for?

 

“I like you the way you are…
but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”
~Corduroy by Don Freeman

 

Every time I read this story, it brings tears to my eyes. Sweet, innocent Corduroy so desperately looking for a button, but really looking for friendship and a place to call home. Isn’t that what we are all looking for in life? Don Freeman captures the innocence of a teddy bear symbolizing a universal desire in life to feel accepted and safe.

Time and time again, I read stories and converse with my students about the author’s message…what are they trying to share between the lines? Friendship? Acceptance? Tolerance? Bravery? Overcoming Obstacles? All of the above? Think of the famous “Pigeon” books by Mo Willems… Ultimately, Pigeon is searching for empathy and someone to comfort him and listen to his needs.

This is the essence of what I try to thread in my stories…in between the lines. All the story elements that make a story – a story- but infused together in a way that ultimately give children a voice on how to make the world a better, kinder place. Through Archway Publishing, I was given this opportunity. After half a dozen notebooks filled with ideas, brainstorming sessions with my family, countless emails to agents and publishers – this deep desire and longing to put my words into print made me feel restless.

And I was beginning to feel jealous. Jealous that my words were not being shared when I felt so strongly that they would make my students smile. It seems selfish but it was a clear indication to me that I was ready to take my notebooks to the next level…Through an incredible supportive husband, family and Archway Publishing team- they made my aspirations come true! Sounds cheesy, but there is such gratification in having your words put into print, a shiny hardcover, the spine imprinted with your name, ready to have gentle fingers turn the page. A bedtime story on the laps of our parents never goes out of style. The way my Archway team understood my vision and made me realize that it was obtainable created such a trust and bond between us for which I will forever be grateful.

Being a library and reading teacher gives me the wonderful privilege of sharing countless tales with hundreds of students every day. Teaching in a low-income, rural district has shown me that these very students are never given opportunities to travel outside their community. I write to inspire. To connect. To tug at heartstrings. To give children a voice. To satisfy my own wanderlust. My pencil (keyboard) is filled with endless stories, words, and destinations that transport children to wherever their imagination will let them go.

I like to sprinkle poignant quotes from literature to inspirit a sense of connection between authors. Authors have such big hearts. We want…NEED… to connect with people (the restlessness!) and feel like maybe the character we create on the page could be our reader…someone lonely, or sad, different or stuck – and pray that our message will penetrate into their beautiful minds and let them know that it is all going to be okay. And no matter what our circumstances, for a few short hours, stories can inspire us and show us that there are people out there who love us just they way we are.

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My favorite…

Kindness in November

I’ve organized these groups and clubs throughout my teaching career, and wanted to show their description that I provided to staff and families. Try one at school or home! Please follow my website for updates…

People Power

This literature focus explores the power of EMPATHY, POSITIVITY, KINDNESS, and BRAVERY in characters and how it changes lives.  I create posters of the above character traits and then ‘debate’ which fits best for the literature. Students can reflect on their  OWN ‘inner powers’ through their own backgrounds and life experiences…which naturally produces thoughtful discussions. I really love to let them share how they interpret the story and I validate their feelings…any thoughts on literature are our OWN innermost reactions, and they are all valid, important, and authentic...one of the best parts of being with our younger readers…no filter!!

My top ten favorite books about kindness….for all ages.  There are so many I wanted to share, but these ones in particular tug at my heartstrings. And they also exemplify and portray a sense of innocence in the characters which makes them feel more relatable to our young readers.  (PS- I think there are 13…and I will probably edit this post three more times thinking of 100 books I forgot to mention….seriously. Authors have such good hearts…) 

Please contact Larissa if you would like her to share one of these workshops/programs with your school, library, or small creative writing group! This is my passion.