Friday, October 21, 2011

The Power of Children's Literature

Last night, I had the great pleasure of hearing Art Slade speak at the Lillian Smith Library in Toronto. His talk was entitled From Hobbits to HTML, and focused on the ever-changing world of digital publishing.

Art began his talk by describing some of the books that had influenced him when he was a child. At the top of his list was Tolkien's The Hobbit, and the Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Art said he'd read both of these in fourth grade, and they changed his life.
 Now Art and I had very little in common during our childhoods. He was raised on a ranch in Saskatchewan. I'm a New York native. He was a boy; I was a girl. But we did share one thing.

I, like Art, read The Hobbit and the Chronicles of Prydain when I was in 4th grade. And the books made a huge impression on me too.

Thousands of miles apart in space, and worlds away in terms of experience, both young Art and young Helaine were moved, inspired and changed by reading those same books. What does this small fact tell you about the power of literature, and the importance of reading for children, then and now?

Me, the summer I read The Hobbit. I was so taken with the book that I faked sick
and read the book in the motel as
the rest of my family explored the Grand Canyon.

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