I’ve had a couple of interesting observations today – well, interesting to me, anyway. I have been reading the interviews of several children’s literature professionals (agents, editors, book reviewers) and a common question asked is: “what drew you to an interest in children’s books?” And, not surprisingly, they most often answered: “reading as a child” or listed a favorite childhood book. So, I asked myself the same question. “When did I truly know that I wanted to write books for kids? And Why?” While I have always enjoyed writing, I never took the option seriously until my adult years. And, ironically, I wasn’t a big reader as a child. I do remember several picture books and my awe at “A Wrinkle in Time”, but I didn’t begin to devour books until much later. And my interest in books for the very young never really blossomed until I had my own children.
So, I decided to examine my current passion a little more deeply. To do a little self analysis, you could say. Walking over to the bookshelf in my studio, I spotted several new books, some written by new friends in this wonderful kidlit community. These books bring great pride in my fellow authors and a feeling of hope.
And then there is the section of “old” books – books that I have had since my own girls were young. Just picking them up sends a wave of warmth and bitter-sweet emotion through my body.
I’ve decided that picture books, to me, hold a significance far removed from the stories themselves or even the illustrations. These books hold memories. Memories of hours spent with my two precious daughters perched on my lap, often squished into a chair much too small for three human beings. I remember my inability to turn the pages because my arms were trapped, hearing their gasps and feeling their bodies tense as the conflict rose in the story.
These books also bring me back to a day several years ago when I was struggling to declutter my house. My husband found me sitting on the basement floor, crying softly as I flipped through the pages of these books. The solution, to him, was simple, “well, just keep them if they mean that much to you.” The conflict was, of course, much deeper than that, for me. Those years are gone and will never return. But I still the memories.
I kept the books and continue to read them as I attempt to break into the writing business myself. I know, now, that my desire to write books for families reaches far beyond simple stories. I am attempting to create a conduit for new memories, memories that will, I hope, last a lifetime for others.