I struggled with what to share today. I have so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a time for celebrating family and community, breaking bread, counting blessings and giving praise. Where would I start? But then I thought about why I write for children, how books make me feel, what it means to see kids inspired, challenged and affirmed by literature and I knew what to say: I’m thankful for being here.
I feel so lucky to be a children’s book author. What an honor to be part of a field full of people who dream and create. I think of the wonder I see in children’s faces at story times and festivals as they’re transported through the words of stories to other worlds. That’s magic. And I’m so thankful to be part of that.
I remember the spell books cast on me as a child. My heart would pound as I started reading a new story. My stomach would drop at tense moments and my eyes would tear at tender ones. My mind would fly across time and space.
Back then, I saw just one book that featured an African-American child as a main character — Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Even though it was set in Depression-era Mississippi, that story resonated with me in a special way. I was reading a story through the eyes of a girl whose skin color was the same as mine.
I’m thankful that my daughter’s bookshelf reflects the beauty of black culture and the world around her — books by Jacqueline Woodson stand side by side with ones by Maurice Sendak and Uma Krishnaswami. Patricia McKissack’s classics nestle against wonderful tales by Amy Hest, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Jerdine Nolen. It’s a place where all voices are appreciated and respected.
I give thanks for that gift and hope one day our world will be the same.