It’s Children's Book Week, a time to celebrate children's books and children’s authors. Three of my four current published works are written for children (but adults seem to enjoy them as well!) -- I've been fortunate to visit a few classrooms recently in preparation and celebration of this special literary recognition.
As both a writer and a reader I've been influenced by many authors, most notably Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was my inspiration during my youth – I read all her “Little House” books, and I've read her works several times during my adult years as well. Since I grew up in southeastern Iowa, I related to Mrs. Wilder’s farm life, particularly in Missouri where she spent her later years. That home is located near Mansfield, MO – my maiden name is Mansfield -- combining those factors, I was thrilled when, while I was in high school, my parents took me to visit Laura's farmstead as we traveled through Missouri one summer. I visited again in 2007 when my husband and I traveled through the area on our way back to Wyoming from visiting his parents in North Carolina. Our blind dog, Sage, was with us then; the weather that December in southern Missouri was stunning, and as we walked the grounds of Rocky Ridge Farm, I reflected the impact Mrs. Wilder has had on children, youth, and adults since her first book was published in 1931 when she was 65 years old. My first book had been published earlier in 2007, and I had started visiting schools and sharing both my blind dog and the book I’d written about her. My career as an author began the year I was able to again visit my author heroine's property.
As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good. - Laura Ingalls Wilder
There are many great childeren's books about a wide variety of topics and in a multitude of genres, some splashed with important life lessons. I write about dogs and weave positive lessons in my stories. I also discover valuable nuggets in others' works. Some of my favorite dogs books for kids (besides my own) are A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann Martin; Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; and The Tale of Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson. Ms. Larsen also writes historical fiction for kids – her Hattie Big Sky series is delightful! I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Ms. Larson, and, like Mrs. Wilder, I look up to Kirby for her accomplishments and her craft.
Though I'm not on the same level as the two women authors I most admire, I recently shared some of my stories at an event for families. We used the timing as a way to honor Moms, Kids and Dogs (for Mother's Day, Children's Book Week, and Be Kind to Animals Week). The event exposed youngsters and their families to a local author (me), someone who composes stories for them. I love sharing my writing with families in such settings, and I think it's great when authors go to libraries and schools – how I would have enjoyed meeting a real author, like Mrs. Wilder or Ms. Larson, when I was a kid!
So, this week, during Children's Book Week, expose your kids (or grandkids, nieces or nephews) to some great books – perhaps even take them to an author event. Sharing the gift of reading with children today positively impacts their future.
Happy Children's Book Week!
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. - Emilie Buchwald, author
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.