Monday, April 20, 2009

The Measure of a Truly Good Children's Book

Some of the most precious memories with my children are the times we spent reading together. Sitting together in the rocking chair or cuddled in the bed. Little heads pressed against my chest with tiny fingers twirling my hair as we read our favorite books. I delighted in their facial expressions as we journeyed with The Runaway Bunny, or stretched our arms wide with Nutbrown Hare in Guess How Much I Love You. I'll never forget the tears when my daughter came to understand why the young man, now grown, had snuck into the room to hold his mother in Love You Forever. These were our favorite stories. We never grew tired of reading them. One of these books would always be in the bedtime mix; and they were always read more than once.
We released The Angry Thunderstorm, on April 1, 2009. It is a wonderful story - beautifully illustrated by my niece who just celebrated her seventeenth birthday. We introduced the proof copy of the book in San Antonio at the National Title One Conference in February. As a new author, I was truly happy with the response we received from curriculum developers, reading specialists and teachers across the country. I thought, "Wow! Surely these people would not tell me it was a wonderful book were it not true." But it wasn't until I witnessed my friend Ann Fiala, Founder of the Reading Instruction Company, having a read-aloud with her granddaughters and The Angry Thunderstorm that I truly felt the Wow! of being an author.
As they read, I watched the little girls' facial expressions. I watched them draw closer to their grandmother as the storm reached his intensity. I watched them calm with the storm as he explained his important role in providing for mother earth and all of her creatures. But the ultimate reward came at the end of the story when I heard three little words - read it again!
I knew then that we had met the measure of a truly good children's book.

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