Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Giving your readers the gift of story

I was talking to a friend recently about his childhood memories of reading. One thing he said really stood out to me.

"I remember the feeling of safety that I associated with certain picture books," he said. "My childhood wasn't always happy or stable, but those books made me feel safe."

Image by Stuart Miles,

What a gift for an author to give a child.

Sadly, there are kids going through turbulence in their lives that they feel they have no escape from. The adults in their worlds may not be aware of what they're going through, or they may even be the cause of the problem. For children whose external worlds are confusing, chaotic or frightening, books can be a lifeline of escape.

We are shaped, perhaps more than we realize, by the books we read in childhood.

As an author, never underestimate the power of your words. What you do matters.

For some readers, the words you write will be a beacon of encouragement. Your words might lift them out of a dark situation, make them think, entertain and distract them from the stresses of their daily life, challenge and inspire them, precipitate change, stick with them for years ahead, and even shape the person they will become.

What did books mean to you as a child? What were your favourite childhood books? Can you think of any that have influenced you today?

Karen Schravemade lives in Australia, where she mothers by day and transforms into a fearless blogger by night. She's a Genesis finalist for women's fiction and is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such. Find her on TwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and getting creative on her home-making blog, A house full of sunshine.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Books do impact children. I fell in love with reading as a young girl. I loved Runaway Bunny when I was very young. My dad used to read to us at night from the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved all that the time before bed came to mean for us three girls and my dad. My mom read to us too, using different voices. :)

As I grew older, I loved reading Trixie Belden mysteries. It was fun to slip into someone else's world for a little while. :)

Annie Brogan said...

Yes! Absolutely. Whenever I get a whiff of an old Beatrix Potter book, I'm taken back to my childhood. Thanks so much for this reminder about the power of words.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I love reading to my kids! And though I wasn't an avid reader until college I have very fond memories of being read to as a child. I remember my parents reading us The Chronicles of Narnia before bed every night. What an escape! And for some reason I loved The BFG by Rould Dahl and my Kids Salty Bible. :) great reminder, K. Less tv today. More reading :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Books still leave an impression on me today. One of the biggest is Scarlett O'hara's determination to save her family's plantation. She may have been a selfish thing, but her drive was admirable.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Jeanne, thank you for sharing those beautiful memories! I absolutely loved the Narnia books as a kid. How awesome that your parents made reading a fun and bonding time for you as a family. What a gift they gave you and your sisters!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Annie, ah yes, Beatrix Potter is a classic! I love how you expressed that. The words of much-loved childhood books convey so much more than the story - they really do capture a sense of time and place and whisk us back to another time in our lives. Magical!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Amy, oh my goodness, Roald Dahl!!! I think I must've read every single thing he ever wrote when I was a kid. One of the best children's authors ever! Love that you're carrying on that family tradition with your kids. I love reading to my littlies too - nothing so sweet as snuggles on the couch with a good book.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Mary, absolutely!! Some books lodge beneath your skin and refuse to be forgotten. Some even take up residence in the heart. Powerful stuff! It's no wonder GWTW is a classic!