I’m writing from the Spotlight on Books conference in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I’m attending as a teen services librarian, but my inner, aspiring YA author is also tickled to be here. Tomorrow I’ll have the chance to meet Sarah Weeks and Alison McGee, as well as Margi Preus, from my own beloved Duluth. Today, I enjoyed a three-hour keynote by Anita Silvey.
What does one talk about for three hours, you may ask. I wondered the same thing. Anita is an expert on children’s and YA books, seemingly having read everything. She talked a lot about how every book has three stories:
- The story contained within the book–that is, the plot.
- The story of how the book came to be–the author’s story.
- The story of how the book affected the individual readers it came in contact with.
Since #1 is fairly accessible, she’s passionate about sharing #2, and collecting #3. To that end, she’s established her Book-a-Day Almanac. Every day, she features another children’s/YA book essay. But what she really wants is to collect stories of how people have connected with that particular book. So check her out frequently, and leave comments on the books that have impacted you. At the end of the year, she’ll be publishing the blog as a book–and she’ll be culling the most impactful stories left in the comments.
Honestly, as she went through slides of Charlotte’s Web and Anne of Green Gables and A Million Cats and told all three types of stories that went with them, I had tears in my eyes for just about the whole presentation. Because books are not just about reading or about stories. They are about everything else in the world.