My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
The Glory of Fall, Back to School Routines, and New Beginnings
Ah....fall. I LOVE fall. From football to leaf raking, it's all perfection to me. I love the back to school routine, the excitement of new teachers, the intrigue of a new football season, and the feeling of a new beginning. Most of my life, I have either been a student who begins a new every fall or a teacher who, well, begins a new every fall, or a mom who participates in the whole new beginning fall thing. So I don't care what happens on the supposed "New Year's Eve" with the resolutions and whatnot, September is truly my new year. And to tell the truth, it takes until about now, the last week in September, for us to be truly enmeshed in the new schedule. Enmeshed in a new schedule is a beautiful thing for me because that's when I settle into a truly excellent writing routine. New beginnings call for inspiration, and while I read craft books on a regular basis (books on writing technique not, say, origami), NOTHING inspires like reading a great, world-changing new book written for children. Here are a few inspirational, incredible books to jump start your fall. ***WONDER by R.J. Palacio. This book is a MG must-read for all human beings, not just children. It is the inspiring story of a young person with a severe facial deformity who attends school for the first time. ***CROWN OF EMBERS by (and amazing and brilliant) Rae Carson. This book is the sequel to THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. I have become wary of series that disappoint after a remarkable first book, but this isn't one of them. The second book is every bit as good, and I can't wait for the third. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS makes my list of top five books I've read THIS YEAR (and maybe top ten of decade). Multi-layered, thought-provoking, riveting, romantic...it has it all! YA but recommended for all. No sex, drugs or rock and roll. ***USEFUL FOOLS by C.A. Schmidt. I met the author of this book back in June, and for some ridiculous reason, I only just read the book a few weeks ago. It was stunning. Set in Peru during the early 90s (I would guess, somewhere in there) when Peru was torn by the violence of the Senderistas. This violent period would take the life of some 70,000 Peruvians. This fictional account brings to life a boy's rise to manhood amidst these confusing and horrifying circumstances. The author did a brilliant job of pulling me into Alonso's story and the story of Peru, all at once. I learned an enormous amount about the conflict, yet it all flowed naturally with Alonso's story. I would highly recommend this book, not just for a great read, but if I were still teaching History or Social Studies, it is one of the very best examples of readable, appealing historical fiction for young people. I highly recommend it for use in the classroom. These three books could not be more different, but they inspired me in different ways. My writing partner and I sometimes say a book is so good, we're nearly depressed. Like, how can I possibly WRITE after reading something that AMAZING. The world doesn't need another book after that one. Like, we should pause the universe until everyone has read a book like WONDER, CROWN OF EMBERS or USEFUL FOOLS. But like sleep begets sleep, I think good writing begets good writing. The better we feed our young readers, the more their appetite grows for GOOD writing. So let's all buckle down and give the children some more good writing. Once you've read these books, of course. Have a great week.
Posted by Donna Jones Koppelman at 5:48 AM