In October at the Boston Book Festival, my colleague Callie Crossley and I were at a reception talking about books when a mother and her daughter stopped by. The bespectacled 10-year-old Sophie was holding a book and using a finger to mark where she had left off reading.
I asked her: “What do you like to read, Sophie?” She gave me several titles, among them the Harry Potter books. She also said she had prepared a monologue from a Harry Potter scene and performed it for us with an impeccable mock-English accent. Sophie seemed unstoppable. She is a reader, a ballet dancer and a pretty decent actor, too. I pressed her for more information.
“Have you read Jacqueline Woodson’s books?” I asked.
Sophie’s eyes lit up. She rattled off the names of every Woodson book she has read. Which is all of them. I couldn’t have been more impressed or delighted. Sophie is exactly the kind of reader we all want – first as a child, then as a young adult and then as an adult. (And we celebrate her parents, as well, because we all know it starts there.) Sophie, I am certain, will prove the research that reports a child who reads early, reads for life.
Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, librarians, friends and community leaders all play a role in literacy. And so do writers. That last group – the writers – is the topic for this issue. If you’ve written a children’s book, middle grade book or YA book – or if you want to – you’ve come to the right place. This issue is for you.
Our interviews feature some of the top writers in the field: Woodson (who at the time of publication was up for a National Book Critics Award), Jon Scieszka, Matt de la Peña, Laurie Halse Anderson and many others.
We hope you’ll also enjoy stories about kid readers and the e-book industry, literary mags produced by young editorial minds and other stories about how-to, where-to, what-to and why-not write for the youngest readers.
I’d like to call your attention to the Off the Cuff column written about early reading habits and lifelong aspirations by a valued member of our team, Hillary Casavant. Hillary has been with us for two years and is now moving on to a new position where she will have more time to pursue her literary dream of writing a novel. We wish her well, and we will miss her vibrant contribution to the magazine.
Hillary was once Sophie. And Sophie is on her way to making her own dreams come true – just like Hillary. So get to work, dear readers (and writers). A lot of young minds are depending on you.