June 18, 2013

Pass it on . . .

A friend and colleague invited me to attend the Association of Marquette University Women annual Leadership Luncheon. Being with a group of successful women--whose scholarship and networking efforts have paved the way for four generations of women--was INSPIRATIONAL. 

Bonus? Hearing HarperCollins Children's Books editor Molly O'Neill share her love of children's literature. 

Molly O'Neill

Think the big publishers are all in it for the buck? After hearing Molly, I heartily disagree. Molly ADVOCATES for the reader. Certainly she wants a blockbuster publication, but she looks for the books that help children ask questions and find their place in the world. In no particular order--and paraphrased--here are a few of Molly's comments:

What if someone had not put the right book in her hands as a child?

When selecting books for children, it's important to retain 
honesty and validate how it feels to grow up.

Good children's literature is open ended 
in that it allows children to find answers for themselves.

Children's literature has a core of hope.

What age is your inner reader?

So, I put books in the hands of children. I'm a Gatekeeper. (Okay, trying to shake the "Ghostbusters" images. This might take a moment or two.)

Ahem. Mostly it's an process that has become instinct. I build a relationship with a student, figure him out, and match him to (I pray) the ONE BOOK that changes everything. Sometimes the process is habit. I don't much care for those moments. I'm not proud of them. Don't you think I should be ATTENTIVELY putting the ONE BOOK into her hands? Yeah, me too.

Here's the thing about hearing another passionate Gatekeeper: it jump starts my battery. The end of a school year leaves me with a battered, broken down attitude. Man, I'm tired. It's not that I'm dispassionate, I'm depleted. Thanks to Molly, I am able to get my engine running and store up energy. GALVANIZED.

That's energy I'm going to put into matching the ONE BOOK to each student.

It's a good day, Friends, and I have a dream job.