For those who question the importance of helping young children become published authors, consider the example of Karlie Justus. Karlie is now a student and cheerleader for the N.C. State Wolfpack. On her personal website she writes:
I’ve been preparing for a career in public relations and journalism ever since I became a published author — in the first grade.
My masterpiece was The Three Balloons, a story I worked tirelessly on, perfecting the characterizations of balloons Fred, Ted and Ned during a tiring cross-country journey to their owner’s home. With a little help from my teacher, we promoted my story hard enough to win first place in a local literary contest, and it was performed as a play at Asheville’s annual Bele Chere festival.
Those early days of deadlines (due before snack time), photo assignments (coloring Fred, Ted and Ned their respective red, blue and green colors) and editors (my librarian Mrs. White) sparked odd obsessions with AP style and inverted pyramids I haven’t been able to kick.
Never underestimate the power of WORDS and the importance of helping others become AUTHORS. This understanding and belief explains part of my own passion for Storychasers. We all have stories to tell, and stories to which we have unique access that deserve the opportunity to be shared with others. Whether writing text, recording audio, or creating video, we can ALL now have access to a powerful set of documentary and publishing tools which our ancestors could scarcely imagine.
Becoming an author and choosing to remain an author is about a lot of things, but foundational among these is DESIRE. The desire to share, the desire to tell, and the desire to create are all innate qualities we have as humans which can be cultivated or extinguished. Culturally, we come from disparate contexts. Yet one thing which can unite us is our desire to not only share, but also to listen. Here’s a shout-out to librarian Mrs. White and Karlie’s first grade teacher. They took the time to not only listen to Karlie’s stories when she was but a first grader, but helped empower her to refine her ideas and share them with an interested audience. They helped Karlie become an author, and KNOW she was an author when she was only seven years old.
We need more librarians and educators like Mrs. White and Karlie’s first grade teacher in our schools and communities, and we need to do more to thank as well as edify them for the vital work they do in our society.
To those of you on the front lines of literacy development in schools and homes I say, carry on with gusto! Keep listening, keep coaching, and keep inspiring the next generation to become AUTHORS.
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