Two days ago my thirteen year old niece told me she was writing a book. She asked me to take a look at it, and of course I agreed. She’s writing it on one of those websites geared toward young writers like her. Miss Literati is a fun place for teens who love to read and want to write. So I went to read her story. I somehow skipped her profile, but today I read it and she mentioned me as one of her inspirations. I was touched, and so proud of her. She’s written five chapters of her vampire teenager story. Ahem, Stephanie Meyer is actually her biggest inspiration. I know this because a few weeks ago she held her breath after asking me, “Have you met Stephanie Meyer?” Sadly of course I to tell her that I hadn’t. She accepted the disappointment that I couldn’t provide an intro with grace.
I like to think I played a small part in her wonderful creativity and inspiration first; even though Stephanie Meyer has eclipsed Aunt Lynn. I bought her a beautiful poetry book when she was three. By age four her parents thought she could read. You see they read it to her at bedtime every night for months (she insisted because she loved it so). Then she began reading along, or so they thought. Actually she had memorized the poems, all of them. As they turned each page she recognize the pictures and recited the appropriate poem. I called her Baby Einstein from then on. Now she wants to be a writer, lawyer and chef (she cooks very well). My books have adult content, so Jasmine is still too young to read any of them. Yet she told me at age eight, “I hope to follow in your footsteps”.
Reading and books changes lives. What we do as authors matters more than we know. So if you have the chance to talk to kids about books and writing, take it. You may plant seeds that give them big dreams. If you give to charities, choose a literacy program for adults and one that puts books into the hands of kids. I’ll bet each of us can cite at least one instance in which someone said, “You inspired me!” If you haven’t, don’t assume you haven’t because sometimes we plant seeds but never see the mighty oaks that result.
Here is one wonderful effort to put books in the hands of African children: Worldreader