Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bookworms Unite!

I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
(Author Unknown)

I enjoyed a vacation day Friday, and went on Jace's first field trip of the year that morning, to Missouri State University. As a working mom, I know I miss out on the parties, room mother duties and other things that some moms are able to do. But one thing I've made a point to do with him every year is to attend the majority of his field trips. Last year's were to the Discovery Center and to Jefferson City, and both were a lot of fun. Friday's field trip was their first this year, a trip to the 29th annual Children's Literature Fest of the Ozarks, and I think I enjoyed it as much as Jace did!

I'm a reader, to the extreme. I know that, and it is both a blessing and a curse. Give me a good fiction book, and you may not see or hear from me for hours. If I'm honest with myself, I know that sometimes reading can definitely get in the way of all of the other things I need to do in my life, and that is where it can become a problem. Sometimes I have to consciously stop myself from picking up a book so that I can get stuff done! I've been like that most of my life; our mom took us to the library every week in our hometown, from the time I was old enough to read. I remember that my favorite place as a child and then a teenager was in my bedroom, sandwiched on the floor in between my bed and the wall, with a pillow under my head, my feet propped up on the wallboard heater, and a open book on my chest. If my parents were looking for me, that's where they headed first!

Until the last couple of years, Jace has not seen the allure of reading. He would much rather do a myriad of other things than pick a book up and read for 20-30 minutes. But things started changing last year a bit, when he discovered that there are some great fiction books/series, and is starting to open up to the idea that reading can be enjoyable! He also has a great Communications Arts teacher this year, who works hard to make reading and writing fun for the kids. I try to keep him engaged with it at home too; we go to the library every few weeks, and he looks forward to picking out some of the Harry Potter-esque books, or other similar series.

But I'm hoping that the Lit Fest on Friday opened up some new interests for him, as far as books go. We heard two Midwest authors speak, and they were very different, but equally interesting. June Rae Wood was the first author, from the small Missouri town of Versailles. The auditorium was filled with middle school children, and she used pictures and props to tell the story of growing up with 7 siblings, including brother, Richard, who had Downs Syndrome. June had written a short story about her brother that was published in a monthly magazine, but then later thought that she should write a children's book about the same subject, in hopes that kids "might better understand people who are different". She went on to write several more children's books, and has won many awards, including the Mark Twain Award for her book about Richard, titled "The Man Who Loved Clowns".

The second author, Anna Myers, talked about several of the 18 books she has published over the last 20 years. A former 6th grade teacher, she kept the kids engaged as she became the character telling the story in each of her books, complete with accent, mannerisms and some props. Most of her books were historical fiction; she gave the kids a preview of a few of them, including one about the race war in Tulsa in the 1920s, another on the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, and perhaps the most interesting one to Jace and me, on the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. Jace was ready to go right to where they were selling the books and buy three or four of them. We weren't able to stay and do so, since his class had to get back to the bus. But I'm taking full advantage of his enthusiasm, and we'll be heading to the library this week to see if they are available!

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