There are books that have changed the way I think about writing. After I got over my supreme jealousy that I did not write them, I learned from them. In turn, I think they shaped my writing. I am showcasing a few of the books and the reasons why I chose them today.
Where the Wild Things Are
I read this book when I was a student teacher. It had been out long before that....believe me. It was the era of Whole Language and textbooks were the enemy. Basically as teachers, we had to create the Language Arts curriculum ourselves. We relied on trade books, collecting the titles that inspired kids to read. And this book.....wow. It taught me so much about imagination and simplicity and the use of amazing language. "They roared their terrible roars." And the last line...sigh. Sendak's illustrations won him the Caldecott, but it was his storytelling that struck my heart. His lesson: Keep it simple. And wonderful.
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
How could anyone not love a book with this title??? This book, well loved by my eldest daughter (who in preschool even thought her own name was "Noel Don and Audrey Wood) helped me understand the beauty of wackiness and repetition. "Today, we will battle in the tub!" Kids love the repetition and in many of my own books, I can see myself picking phrases to be used in the text over and over again. This book shaped the way I shape a text. (say that 5 times fast!)
Frog and Toad and Henry and Mudge
These books showed me the beauty of the easy reader. It is possible to tell a story with heart and soul and humor and simple words. I love these books more than you can imagine. I have watched hundreds of children who are just finding their way in reading latch on to these books and become fluent readers by the simple act of reading them. These books create literate people far more effectively than any phonics reading program out there. Because in these books, the reader wants to know what happens. The reader cares.
My love for all of these books (and of course, their authors, Maurice Sendak, Don and Audrey Wood, Cynthia Rylant and Arnold Lobel) stems from the fact that I read them not only with my own eyes, but through the eyes of children. They helped me see/remember what it is like to be a child. They are a case study of what children like/need to read.
These books changed my life as a writer.
Are there books that changed you?