People often ask me why I write for children. I write for this amazing segment of readers and listeners because I believe. I believe in their ability to make sense of the incomprehensible. I believe in sparking their compassion, understanding, and curiosity. I believe in their resilience and ability to put things in their places and to choose the right course of action. Simply, children are much more capable than many adults give them credit for. And this is why I still enjoy making school visits after twenty years in the classroom and thirty years as a traveling author. (In case you think I must be completely ancient, there was some overlap in time there.)
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to visit with second- and third-grade youngsters in Georgia. Afterwards, media specialist Heather Tucker wrote to say, “You were amazing! Thank you so much. Our students were to excited to meet a ‘real live author’. It is so encouraging to see them get so excited about reading and writing.” Shelena Bentley, their teacher, wrote, “Thank you so much for spending time with our students today. Afterward, several asked if they could do it again – with you.” It doesn’t get better than that.
Certainly, I could pursue other endeavors that would be financially more rewarding than writing for children and visiting schools–like waiting tables or walking dogs. This year, despite numerous awards and starred book reviews, I will have to under-report my 2015 writing and speaking expenses just to be able to show income equal to my IRA contributions. But it isn’t always about money–although it would be nice to actually earn a better-than-poverty-wage at one’s chosen career. It is about the children, and the joy, concern, and enthusiasm expressed in their eyes when they connect with fictional characters and/or a nonfiction topic. This is why I do what I do.