|Laurie Thompson -- photo credit: Mary Balmaceda|
Hello again! I was here last September after the release of my first book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, and it's an incredible honor to be back again for another Friend Friday post!
In my last post, I talked about the importance of friendship in changemaking and in writing, and I’d like to expand on those themes a bit more today. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful to be a part of the warm, wonderful community that surrounds children’s literature. I’m blessed to be a part of several different subgroups within that community: the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, clients of Erin Murphy Literary, the Emu’s Debuts group blog, my critique group, the NFforKids Yahoo group, and others. We share information and advice about publishing, certainly, but we also share our hopes and fears, our successes and near-misses. It’s hard to fathom what a nurturing, supportive environment it is, and it’s delightfully different from anything I’ve ever encountered in any other industry.
Readers of children’s literature are every bit as amazing. I’ve received notes from parents about their children’s intense reactions to both Be a Changemaker and my newest book, Emmanuel’s Dream.
One parent mentioned how great it was watching her son’s face while she read it to him and seeing the range of emotions that flashed across his face as he heard Emmanuel’s story: sadness, joy, surprise, hope, satisfaction. Other parents have told me their children have fought over it, taken it to school for sharing time, and even slept with it!
Teachers have told me they are using these books in their classrooms and/or slipping them to students they think might benefit from them. One teacher was told by a student’s parents that Be a Changemaker changed their son’s life. Another teacher friend of mine dares other teachers at her school to read Emmanuel’s Dream aloud and not cry… so far, no one has succeeded. Now, I don’t normally like the thought of making teachers cry, but in this case, I’ll take it! And, I’ve heard from librarians who say they want more books like these in their libraries and know just the young patrons to hand them to. I’ve heard from several who’ve said Emmanuel’s Dream should be in every elementary school library in the country. I’m amazed that readers, parents, teachers, and librarians take the time to send me these anecdotes and feedback. It is humbling stuff, and oh so encouraging.
Recently, another author friend of Kirby’s and mine sent us an email that began with the words, “In case you're ever wondering if what we do day in and day out makes a difference, I thought I'd share this email I received yesterday…” She went on to share a note she’s received from a reader, now an adult, about the profound impact one of her books had made on her as a child and continues to make now that she’s grown. Humbling and oh so encouraging, indeed. And our friend didn’t share this powerful story with us as a brag. Quite the contrary, in fact. She sent it as a gentle nudge to keep us all going through the good times and the not-quite-so-good times, a gentle reminder that our work matters, and don’t we all need to hear that every now and then?
Yes, we all have days when we wonder if what we do day in and day out makes a difference. Fortunately, we are a part of a fantastic community of writers and readers and book lovers that reminds us every single day. Since you’re reading this post, I’m fairly certain you are part of that community, too. Thank you, for everything you do, every day. Your work matters. And we really couldn’t do ours without you.
Laurie Ann Thompson grew up in rural northern Wisconsin. A former software engineer, she now writes for children and young adults to help her readers--and herself--make better sense of the world we live in, so they can contribute to making it a better place for all of us. She strives to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. Her books include BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS (Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, September 2014), a teen how-to guide filled with practical advice and plenty of inspiration for beginning social entrepreneurs; EMMANUEL'S DREAM (Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House, January 2015), a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who changed Ghana's perception of people with disabilities; and MY DOG IS THE BEST (FSG/Macmillan, June 2015), an adorable picture book about the unconditional love that exists between a child and a family pet. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.