Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's All About the Children

Week of August 12, 2012: Stand-out Moments from SCBWI, LA
Wednesday, August 15—It’s All About the Children

Tony Diterlizzi—every boy reader’s best friend—began his presentation with the following quote from Albert Einstein:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Isn’t that wonderful? The presenters at SCBWI LA continually reminded us that what we do is for children, and that what we do is valuable to children. So how does Tony Diterlizzi, meet the needs of his readers? “I ask myself,” he said, “what does ten-year- old Tony want that Tony today can make?” In other words, he looks back to himself as a child to remember what appealed to him, what didn’t, what he needed, what he wanted, and what he had . . . then it makes something new to fit the needs of his inner child.

A highlight of the LA conference was hearing Patricia MacLachlan and later having a chance to meet her in person. Patricia said, “Childhood is powerful. Children experience life beside adults, not behind them.” Knowing that should shape our writing. But at all times, MacLachlan said, we must remember that children are children. She quoted Maria Montessori, who said, “The child endures all.” Patricia said she would change the quote to, “The child knows all.”

Gary Schmidt was the final keynote speaker, and he was powerful. He said, “Never doubt that your stories can change a child’s life.” He encouraged fellow writers to “Write those things that will give your readers more to be human being with—that’s what all art does.” Gary encouraged the audience members to do five things that can impact their readers, the children.

     (1)  Love the world and everything in it.
(2) If you want to be a writer, you must love the stuff of your craft--words.
(3) The writer must give the reader questions if you want them to be more of a human being.
(4) Pay attention. 
(5) Your first question of yourself should always be: “Does the writing serve.”

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