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The Book That Changed My Life: At Home in the Pages

My mother, now ninety — the first person who ever read poems to me — must have given me this book, but she does not remember the occasion. By the time I was seven (1959), my copy was hand-worn and familiar. I toted it proudly. At 608 pages, containing more than 700 poems, it was […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Advice for an Author

I came across Alice Schertle’s book Advice for a Frog, published in 1995 and illustrated by Norman Green, at a time when I was still trying to find my voice in children’s literature. I’d written two middle-grade novels (rejected); countless picture-book texts (all rejected); many, many adult poems (let’s not even go there); and a […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Barbara’s Book

I decided when I was a teenager that I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I’d always considered myself an artist, but when I was in high school I narrowed my focus. Children’s books would be my life’s work. This decision came to me, in part, because of Barbara Bader’s book American Picturebooks from […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Oh, What a Circus

Dr. Seuss sketched the spiritual background of my childhood — particularly in books such as If I Ran the Circus, If I Ran the Zoo, and On Beyond Zebra! As a kid, I loved weird beasts, and each of these books featured a menagerie of goggle-eyed, fanged, tufty mammals with bizarre and hilarious habits. But really […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Aliens Don’t Discriminate

As a former librarian and teacher, I have seen the power of books and their ability to change lives—and save lives. A book is a place to fall in love with words, the first seeds to grow into a garden of imagination. The book that changed my life was Virginia Hamilton’s Willie Bea and the […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Didn’t You CRY?

In ninth grade I was blessed with an English teacher, Miss Soule, who really loved books. (Not always the case with English teachers, witness my tenth grade teacher, who pronounced genre with a hard g.) Miss Soule had a standing weekly assignment for which we were required to turn in some kind of book-related project […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Couple of Misfits

It’s obvious from the very beginning of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park that the two of them are a couple of misfits. I couldn’t imagine how their worlds would overlap, much less merge, and I bet Eleanor and Park didn’t either. From being weird, misfitty friends, they gradually start to find each other attractive, though […]

That Book That Changed My Life: Hearts So Full

Asking me to write about a book that changed my life is like asking me to choose just one star. Hundreds have changed me, each shining its own light, each from its own station in the firmament, all of those stations slowly whirling so I see them from new vantage points as I age. One […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Sense of Possibility

I am sitting at my desk, age seventy-five, and I am searching my mind, going way back for “a book that changed my life.” I’ve managed to get as far back as the late 1940s in Sydney, Australia. There I am on my stomach on the living-room floor and…no, that won’t do, those are comics! […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Not-So-Simple Semple

I began my writing career in the fifth grade, penning rap lyrics, love letters, and short stories. But in the sixth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Davis, introduced me to the writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance. I remember being as fascinated by those writers as I was by the modern-day “poets” at the time, […]