Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lucky Me

Every now and then, there’s a perfect day.

Yesterday morning, I worked with the little ones at our summer writing program at St. Florian Center's Youth Leadership Development Camp, drawing stories out of them, helping them put the words down on the page. One of the little girls, LaNiyah (7), stroked my inner arm while I was writing.

“Your arm is soggy,” she said.

I laughed. “That’s because I’m old,” I said.

She looked at me, considered, then said cheerfully, “You still have teeth, though.”

“I do!” I said. “And that is a good thing.”

I especially love the little ones. They’re so lovely to look at, so full of life. I love watching our college interns and volunteers work with the kids of all ages. They come up with great stuff to keep them on track.

Michael had a pair of sunglasses, which the kids naturally wanted to try on. “Okay,” he said. “The first person to write a sentence gets to wear them till the next person finishes one.” He kept them writing that way, sentence by sentence, passing the glasses around the table.

Leeann was working with some of kids that were having trouble concentrating. “You need to get to work,” she said—then thought, but what are the consequences if they don’t. She added, “…because I’m going to be so disappointed if I don’t get to read the stories you have inside your heads.” This surprised them. They wrote. When I was taking pictures yesterday, they all wanted to have their pictures taken with her.

I went from St. Florian to my favorite bookstore, IndyReads, where our Latino middle-schoolers from LaPlaza gathered to browse the bookshelves and listen to what three young, very cool real writers had to say about writing. Bryan Furuness, Andrew Scott and Ben Winters volunteered their time to talk about writing when they were kids and writing now.

“It’s hard,” they all said. “Making an idea into a story is like taking care of a baby bird,” Ben said. “You have to feed it, nurture it until its wings get strong—and then, one day, it flies.”

“Read, read, read,” all of the writers told the kids. “Read what you want. Anything. ‘Good books’ are the ones you like, not the ones people say you should like. If you can’t afford to buy books, go to the library. It’s yours. You can check out any book you want.”

After the kids received autographed copies of the books Ben’s publisher had provided, I moved on to “my” library—the College branch of IMCPL at 42nd Street and College Avenue.

Last fall, I had the great pleasure of donating $2,500 to the branch as a result of winning the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional Indiana Authors Award. Yesterday, I got to cut the blue ribbon, officially opening the cozy corner they created for the littlest kids with the money. It has a cool activity wall, a bright alphabet rug, a nifty kid-size armchair next to the story phone, so they can sit and listen to a story—and a brass plaque nearby with my name on it.

I sat down and tested out the wall with a couple of little boys who kept on playing, loving being at the library when I left to join IMCPL CEO Jackie Nytes was there; Danny Dean and Laura Wills from the Library Foundation” and, of course, the fabulous College branch librarians for a celebration with a groovy “Indiana Writers Rock” cake and raspberry lemonade.

Finishing off this very excellent, day my husband and I bicycled up the Monon Trail to Bazbeaux Pizza in Carmel, where we had a huge salad and our favorite pepperoni, onion and red pepper pizza…then cycled the calories off (well, some of them) on the way home.

Luck,lucky me.


Lisa Jenn said...

That's a beautiful little library area they created with the money! And I love the writing kid stories.

Kathy H-C said...

I agree, Barb. Writing with kids is waaayyyy more fun than doing it by yourself (but wait! so is everything).

Barbara Shoup said...

Kathy, you made me laugh!