Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stories as Gifts: Black, White, and Read All Over ~Part 2!

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!!!

So, last week I blogged about how super excited I was to attend the Sara Pennypacker lecture of the "Black, White and Read All Over" lecture series, Saturday November 21st.  As anticipated, I had very good reason to be so pumped for the presentation!  It was a wonderful program.  Sara Pennypacker's talk was both inspirational and informative, not to mention fun and interactive.  Plus, she left plenty of time at the end for audience questions (and book signing in the CLP main library!!!!) and it was really fun to hear questions from readers of all ages.  My only regret is forgetting my camera!   Here's a recap of the morning, and some of the overarching points Pennypacker discussed during her talk:
  • The stories that come to us are gifts.  This simple, yet profound concept quickly became an underlying thread throughout her talk.
  • Books and stories give us the gift of empathy.  What an essential concept that touches readers of all ages. Especially appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday :-)
  • Pennypacker in a way reached out to shy kids several times during her talk, remarking that she is quite shy herself.  She encouraged the especially shy kiddos in the audience to write, because shy people in particular have a knack for observing something that happens in the world, taking a step back for a moment, and gaining a new perspective with which to see and understand a given situation.
  • Pennypacker also gave some how-to tips for writing.  Here's a quick summary of her suggestions:  1).Writing has to be comfortable.  Particuarly inside your own head, you must find a quiet and cozy spot that allows you to hear the stories and characters that come to you.  2). Once you find this quiet space, call on your character and ask him or her, what's wrong?  Let your character be present and speak to you without the interruption of other thoughts.  All the kids in the audience seemed to really enjoy her own funny tales of writing and responded well to this imaginative approach!
  • She also talked extensively about the power of writing, and how telling a story can transform the writer.   
  • Through writing, we have the ability to do something about the sometimes difficult things we see in our world. To quote from Pennypacker's talk: "There is something you can do about it, you can write it down."  Empowering kids in this way was really wonderful to see.
  • Pennypacker is always talking with beloved character Clementine in her head!  Of all her characters, Clementine is very real to her because she is based on the personalities and actions of her own two children combined.
  • One final fun and thought-provoking suggestion from Pennypacker: When you create something, say it took you however many years old you currently are, not just the number of years it took to write down.  Why?  Pennypacker explained it like this:  it took all of you to create the work.
My favorite Sara Pennypacker quote from the lecture:
"Books are about breaking down boundaries between who we are, who we could be, and what the rest of the world is."