Those who aren’t familiar with libraries are always questioning, how do books inspire? I’ve never been inspired by a book. A painting, of course. A piece of music, oh yes. But a book? really?
It comes from the passions of the writer and having something from their works reach into you, just like that painting or that music touched your soul. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these two wonderful women at different times. Sharon Draper I had met previously when she released Copper Sun and then again this past weekend at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. Jacqueline Woodson I had met when she first released Locomotion. The works that these women have done, singularly and combined, have touched so many of my middle and teen readers that I couldn’t begin to count.
The books that these women write are so powerful, their words are so meaningful to the teens, and yet we struggle to get books like theirs on the shelves in libraries, in bookstores, even published. Over the years I’ve shared their books with hundreds of teens, and they’ve come back and asked for MORE, and OTHERS that are like them, voraciously going through the teen collection and then oh so gently being nudged into the adult collection when I run out in YA.
Their works have inspired and reached so many teens that they might never know about, and over the years they’ve gotten recognition for their works, but it seems that this year the library and publishing world is sitting up and taking notice.
One of the teens I’ve worked with who’s gone through a lot of painful things came into the library after seeing Woodson won the National Book Award, and just sat for a minute.
Then he started asking,”So, this book award thing, it’s like pretty big?”
Yep, really big.
“But it’s not the same author we just read through, right? ‘Cuz that’s a teen author.” (We had made a deal when I started working with him that if he was going to read “actual” books like the school counted, I would read them, too.)
Yep, same author.
“You’re *$&&&# me. The one that wrote Hush, the one of Locomotion, that sappy If I Come Softly, that author won it.”
“Holy $%&*. So I can go to school and tell my ESL teacher that I read an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR?”
“HA! Thanks, Miss. Oh, when is she writing more?”
It’s because of their drive, and their dreams, that they’ve kept on writing. It’s because of that, they’re making a difference in these teens lives. They may not know how many teens and readers they’re reaching, but they’re reaching them.
Congratulations to Sharon M. Draper on the Margaret A. Edwards Award for 2015.
I’m thrilled that you get to add them to your ever growing list of accolades, and may the recognition continue for your works.