There was once a time when I wanted to write books for children. But it was one of those aspirations in my life that I never achieved. However, I am not bitter about it because part of the process of trying to learn how to write books for children was reading books for children. I found the books of four (4) authors on the shelves of the public library in the section for juvenile and young adults. There is no reason why old adults should not enjoy reading those books too.
►Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)
The late Madeleine L’Engle (born in New York City) established herself as a young adult writer. Her last book, The Joys of Love, was published in 2008, posthumously. But I will always remember her for her book A Wrinkle in Time, published 1962; and later adapted to film in 2018. Per Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac: “On March 12, 1963, the New York Times wrote ‘A housewife and an artist today won the nation’s top awards for the most distinguished children’s book published in 1962.’ This statement doesn’t even hint at the truth that the most courageous committee in the history of the Newbery and Caldecott Awards had just announced its results. […]”
There is only one thing that puzzled me about this book. Why wasn’t this book listed as “required reading” in my school curriculum? That was then (during the 60s and 70s). When one of my teenage daughters attended school (about 30 years later), I noticed Ms. L’Engle’s book on her desk, along with other books that were required reading. Books like: Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird; George Orwell’s, Animal Farm; Charles Dickens’, Great Expectations, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter. WOW! These books were required reading during my school days. It was good to see that Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time has earned a place among them.
“A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
►Katherine Paterson (1932 -)
Katherine Paterson (born in Huai’an, China) is another writer of books for young readers. Many people likely know of her now because of the 2007 movie Bridge to Terabithia, which was based on her book by the same name, published in 1977. But I know Ms. Paterson because of her book Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom. It’s a tale about a secret God-worshipping group and the Taiping Rebellion, set in 1851 in China. Ms. Paterson is an American who was born in 1932 in China to missionary parents. She was a teacher and a missionary in Japan. No doubt this background was integral to the writing of this piece of historical fiction about the rebels. Her books are included in the Children’s Reading List published via Oprah.com.
“Under Heaven all men are brothers….”~ Katherine Paterson, Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom
►Laurence Yep (1948 -)
Laurence Yep (born in San Francisco, California) holds the reputation as the premier Chinese-American writer. He is best known for his book Dragonwings. Dragonwings is the first in a series of nine books collectively called the Golden Mountain Chronicles. It is a fictional work that combines the historical event of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the experience of Chinese immigrants in California, and a flying machine. No doubt that unique mix of story elements sounds very intriguing. You must surely want to know more.
“Houses don’t mean much. It’s the people inside them that are important,”~ Laurence Yep, Dragonwings
►Jane Yolen (1939 – )
Jane Yolen (born in New York City) has authored 300+ children’s and fantasy/sci-fi books. In addition, she has written thousands of poems and short stories. Ms. Yolen has been called, “the Hans Christian Andersen of America” by Newsweek; and the “modern equivalent of Aesop” by The New York Times. It is very difficult to pick a favorite work from her writings, because every time I read one of her works, it easily makes it to the list of “Favorites”. I especially love reading Ms. Yolen’s fantasy writing. According to Fantastic Fiction Limited, a UK based website, which provides bibliographies for over 30,000 authors of fiction, “Jane Yolen is one of the acknowledged masters of fantasy today.” Ms. Yolen has also published several graphic novels.
“The thing I want to know is, if you tell your brain not to do stuff… and it keeps doing it anyway, does that mean your mind has a mind of its own? And if it does, then who’s in charge here, anyway?”~ Jane Yolen & Bruce Coville, Armageddon Summer
For me, even though I am a senior citizen, reading juvenile literature or books written for young adults is a guilty pleasure. Books written for young adults are often a very quick read (less than 300 pages). You should try it. Select any of the books by the authors profiled above. If you would like more suggestions, check Al’s Book Club for Kids or the Kids’ Reading List published by Oprah Winfrey. Or, if you have an opportunity to go to your local public library, consult the librarian for advice. Go ahead and indulge your inner child.
“Al’s Book Club for Kids.”, TODAY.com: Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, TODAY Show Video, News, Recipes, Health, Pets. Web. 27 Apr 2011.
“Kids’ Reading List – Oprah.com.” Oprah Winfrey’s Official Website – Live Your Best Life – Oprah.com. Web. 27 Apr 2011.
“Author Katherine Paterson After Bridge to Terabithia – Oprah.com.”Oprah Winfrey’s Official Website – Live Your Best Life – Oprah.com. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.
“FIND A BOOK: L’ENGLE, MADELEINE.” Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac. Web. 27 Apr 2011.