Saturday, December 10, 2011

Austin SCBWI Outreach Benefits Bastrop Community and Public Libraries

It’s been one month since we kicked off the Austin SCBWI Outreach effort, an effort to help replenish the books that the families and the libraries lost in the fires that ravaged the Bastrop community. Today, representing the Austin SCBWI chapter, my husband and I delivered over 1,000 books donated by children’s authors and illustrators to the Bastrop Public Library. It was joyful and humbling being able to play Santa Claus for a day, and I hope through these pictures you feel like you were there with me.

Richard West and I unloading books at the library
Sue Lane McCulley, president of the Bastrop Friends of the Library, was there to greet me with several other friendly committee members (Janet West, Vice President Fundraising, and Richard West, Member At-Large). Together, we unloaded our jam-packed van with books of every genre. I truly felt euphoric as I handed over a check to Sue for $285.00, the additional money donated by you through our chapter’s website. The staff of the Bastrop Public Library was busy setting the stage for tomorrow’s (December 10th) annual Open House from 10am – 4pm. Families will partake in sweets, treats (think gingerbread houses, yum!) and each child will go home with two books, compliments of the Friends of the Library (and supported by our outreach).

Janet West, Sue Lane McCulley, Richard West, Sheilah Kosco and Me
Sheilah Kosco, Assistant Director of the Bastrop Public Library, was ecstatic watching the books pile into her stock room because their library lost over 10,000 titles in the Bastrop fires. Even though the library didn’t burn to the ground, many of their books perished as they were checked out to residents in the community who lost their homes. Sheilah told me that the Austin SCBWI Outreach effort is going to make a huge difference in in helping them to replenish those lost titles in not only the Bastrop Public Library but Smithville too. Both libraries were deeply affected by the tragedy. 

There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude I received on your behalf from the Bastrop Public Library and the Bastrop Friends of the Library but one thing is for sure – books will be dancing into the hearts of kids tomorrow and for years to come – all because of you! 

A deep, ernest, heart-of-Texas thank you to the schools, SCBWI chapters, and individuals who donated books and funds to this important outreach. From coast to coast, the SCBWI Kid-lit community has banded together to help a wild fire ravaged community heal through the power of literature for children. And we, here in Austin, are honored to have played an organizational role in the healing process. 

Happy Holidays! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why We Write for Children

At this time in the season, I always find myself sitting back and reflecting about the many things I'm thankful for such as my family, air in my lungs, a roof over my head, words in my head and memories to fill my heart. I'm also thankful for the wonderful writing community I belong to in Austin and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for their support and encouragement. I wouldn't be as far along in my writer's journey without their guidance and the opportunities they provide through their organization. Every day, I become a better writer. And everyday there's a child out there who needs me to be a better writer. For it's through the stories we tell that children make connections, take journeys and discover the world beyond their back doors.

I write because of them. The children. The ones who need to feel that they, too, can tell their own stories. I mean  if I can write a story so can they. And when they see me writing, hear my voice, hear my stories, they know they can tell their story, too. Their stories are just as important to tell. They matter. And I'm eager to hear them. I write to share myself with them in the hopes that they'll make a connection, enjoy the ride and then begin their own journey of sharing their voice with the world. 

In the last month or so, several of my writer friends have been sharing and inspiring us through their essays on the blog produced by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and I want to highlight a few of those blog posts today in the hopes that you'll be inspired to keep writing for the children who need us.

Author Jeanette Larson's essay "A New Dia is Dawning" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author Bethany Hegedus's essay "Meeting Gandhi's Grandson, The Making of a Picture Book" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author Liz Garton Scanlon's essay "Author Not Illustrator: My perspective on the Caldecott Honor" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author Greg Leitich Smith's essay "It Started with a Picture Book" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author Elizabeth White's essay "Love, Your Admiring Patron" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author Lindsey Lane's essay "A Digital Revelation" can be found by clicking HERE.

Author E. Kristin Anderson's essay "Social Networking: Making the World Smaller one Tweet at a Time" can be found by clicking HERE

Author and RA Debbie Gonzales's essay "Reader Guides - Pick Your Pleasure" can be found by clicking HERE.

And here is a lovely post by Cynthia Leitich Smith "Why Picture Books are Important" at the blog PICTURE BOOK MONTH A Celebration! Click HERE to read it! Also you'll find many other wonderful essays on the blog from talented authors and illustrators celebrating everything there is to love about the picture book. 

Peace, love and joy from my house to your house. Keep writing!