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An Occasional Post

Why write for children?

I’ve been busy. Everybody’s busy. Living in Vermont means getting ready for winter early: stacking wood, cleaning the woodstove, putting the garden to bed, checking for drafts, etc. A frost is predicted for tonight, and I should be outside picking the last of the produce (baseball bat zucchinis, anyone?).

I must admit, however, that I abandoned the garden a while ago. When it’s in the nineties and humid, I sit in front of a fan and write. We had repulsive heat (I know some of you like it. Not me--) followed by no rain, and the soil turned to dust. Poor garden. Maybe next year. I apologize to all my plants. Know that I love you.

So my camp reunion is next weekend. Six months ago, the idea of a reunion was but a gleam in my eye. Then I began to find people. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have become a superb detective. Somewhere between 60 and 70 people are coming, and we have all kinds of plans. We’ll sing folksongs we learned from Pete Seeger and many others, do a few folk dances (no more scratchy 45s--I’ve downloaded the MP3 files), play with gimp (remember gimp, anybody?), and talk, talk, talk.

We also plan to re-create a history of camp. What happened when, who was there, which miraculous events occurred in what year. And we will, for sure, talk about politics…

…which has led me to think about politics in children’s books. In Learning from the Left, Julia L. Mickenberg examines “how writers and illustrators passed dissenting ideas on to children.” I’ve wondered for a long time about my own lifetime desire to write for children.

What compels so many of us to focus our attention on young readers? Why write for children instead of adults? How do you answer this question for yourself when you think about it? I believe it’s more than this: “children are such a receptive audience.”

I’d love to hear what you have to say. I’ll focus more in my next post, or so I hope.

In the meantime, wish me luck with the reunion. I have lots to do to get ready, but I’m not a nervous wreck. What happens, happens—right?
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