We didn't have a library that was really close by, so my school library, especially as a young child, was really important to me, and my earliest memory would probably be [as] the person who checked out "Where the Wild Things Are" over and over and over again, until the librarian told me I wasn't allowed to do it, because some other kids had to read the book.
I would say that the library certainly fostered my love of reading, yeah. Absolutely. Without a library, all we had was the books at home, which were great, but I liked weirder books. So, my library had those, which was good.
[Do you go with your family to the library?]
I do. I'm a trustee at my local library, my community library, so I'm very involved. I have a three year old and an eight year old and my husband and regularly fixes things there, too. So yes, we are very involved.
When things get really loud at my house and I'm trying to work, I pack up all my things all the things and I go to my local library, where it's, you know, not completely quiet, like the old days, but there's no toddler screaming for me personally. So that's good.
But for research purposes, a lot of my working is set in fictional areas of where I live now, so it's great to be able to research those things. In my last book, say, there was a pagoda, and I and I got to learn the history of the pagoda. Things like that. And those were local books,I wouldn't have been able to find them anywhere else.
I'm the secretary of my library board. One of our trustees came back and reported from a systems meeting, a county meeting. And at that systems meeting there was a task force that recommended that we as trustees start making a plan for the next five to ten years to become completely self-sufficient.
Back story. I also run my community swimming pool, which is completely nonprofit and volunteer run, and it's incredibly difficult to get volunteers, to get funding, to get people to even help with fundraisers. So with that experience, I couldn't understand why this task force believes that we're going to be volunteer run and volunteer funded and that people in the community are just going to come out and raise the full budget to run a community library. That just seems to me like fairy dust. I don't see why anybody's thinking that that's possible.
What I think he comes from is that people don't understand, or they take for granted, what libraries did for them.
It's the same with education, because it weren't for librarians and teachers, politicians wouldn't be politicians.
I know this because I'm a literacy teacher. And I say spend two weeks with any of my literacy students and you will find out what it's like to not have libraries and education, but we take for granted and I'm really quite not happy about the budgetary cuts and cuts all around. It doesn't make any sense to me.
I think that certain books are not for certain people. And I do think that if I'm a parent... What I tend to do is if I'm concerned with any sort of content, or that there might be content in the book for my child, I read the book first. It takes a little time, but it's worth it.
So far, I've never found anything that she wanted that was inappropriate, because she wanted to read about it.
She's been reading about the Civil War lately and she wants to see the pictures of the bodies of the Battle of Gettysburg, which is kind of gross, but she wants to know. If she asks, then it's time for her to find out.
But I actually just met up with one of the coolest school principals ever. And he said something really important which fits with that, which is he looked at the audience and he said, "Some of these authors are controversial. Some of their books are controversial. Some of their subject matter is a little bit edgy, but he explained that to the audience.
He said that over half of our students don't have fathers. Some of our students have parents in jail. Some of our students do drugs. Some of our students have alcohol problems. Some of our students cut, and are depressed - unhappy things happening.
And if you and your child are the lucky ones who don't have these problems, they know someone who does, and it's really, really important to understand these things, because these people exist and so to be able to reach kids who are in that situation is wonderful for me, but to also reach the kids who aren't in that situation, so they can help people who are, is equally important.
My latest project is "Everybody Sees the Ants." It's about Lucky Linderman, who is a bullied boy, who has been relentlessly bullied, really since he was about seven years old. And he copes with this by mysteriously visiting his grandfather who is still missing in Vietnam.
For me it was an exploration of bullying and of torture and of uh...sort of how the two meet. It was also a great way to talk a little bit about the draft lotteries and prisoners of war and things like that, which alot of people of this generation might be not be aware of.
Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter
I grew up in a dysfunctional family and a economically depressed area. Alcoholism, mental illness and a sense of hopelessness permeated our home and no one in my family or at school had any hope that I'd amount...