Here’s an interview I did with Tom Owens for Childrens Literature Network.
Kathleen, what’s the good news about children’s literature right now?
The good news in children’s literature can be summed up in the words of E.B. White who said, “All I want to say in books, all I ever wanted to say is, I love the world!” I believe that this love is at the heart of all children’s literature—it always has been and it always will be, no matter the market trends, the gloom and doom of the economy, or the skeptics and the naysayers who wring their hands and bemoan the future of the publishing business. Good writers continue to write out of a radical love for life, the world, and the human spirit, and there are still many, many parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and children who crave those kinds of books. I meet them all the time!
From your perspective, what can be done to make that “good” even better?
I recently returned from a trip to Mumbai, India, where my daughter works. While I was there, I visited a little school. The taxi dropped us off at a rubbish dump and, from there, we wound our way past one-room shacks and tiny barefooted toddlers. We climbed up a steep hill, littered with dog dirt, rotting fruit rinds, and swarming flies, and entered this oasis of learning. Sixty children were crammed into one small classroom, three and four squashed into their bench desks and they listened while I read them my latest book, they asked us about America, we talked about stories, and they read us, ever so earnestly, in their halting English, their own stories and they told us of their dreams—to be engineers, pilots, and doctors.
As I turned to leave I saw on the wall behind me two large flash cards with the words BELIEVE and DREAM. Isn’t that why we write books? Isn’t that why we read books? Isn’t that what we want all our children to do? Isn’t that what we writers and storytellers are called to do? To make the good even better, let’s not forget to believe that great stories can help us see heaven on earth, and that we need dreamers to make the impossible possible.
|children from Shri Ram Vidya School in Mumbai|