Friday, February 23, 2007


Susan Cooper and Katherine Paterson received standing ovations at the recent Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators national midwinter conference in New York. The NCBLA is pleased to be able to share an excerpt of Susan Cooper's speech with you.

"... when children ask me for tips on writing, here is what I say to them: “Read, read, read. Anything and everything, but specially the things your teachers and librarians suggest. The rhythms and patterns of the stories you read will go down into your subconscious and help you to write – and though you may not believe this, you’ll never again have so much time for reading as you have now.”

I mean what I say, about the rhythms of good prose soaking into them. Sometimes I add that the major influences on my own prose were Shakespeare, Dickens and the King James Bible, and the kids look at me with horror and dismay. ( What? Who? King James - he’s a rapper?.... gospel singer? )Above all, though, I am urging them to read for the sake of their imaginations. Especially children who want to write. In this age of the screen and the instant message, the imagination is at risk; like a muscle, it can’t develop without being exercised, and exercise takes time and effort. Reading requires that, and provides it; watching images flash by on a screen does not. On my car I have a bumper sticker, even though they aren’t fashionable these days. My daughter gave it to me one Christmas, because she knows me so well. It says FIGHT PRIME TIME - READ A BOOK."

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