Friday, July 17, 2009

Why I write for children

Sometimes people ask me why I write for children instead of adults. The best answer I can give is to tell them something that happened a couple of years ago.

My dear friend Michelle told me about one of her favorite books from childhood. She couldn't remember the title any more, but the plot was still vivid. It involved an adventurer in a giant balloon and Krakatoa, and was full of incredible inventions.

I didn't say much, but I came home and ordered a copy of the Newbery-winning The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois.

The next chance I had, I handed it to Michelle. Her whole face lit up. She clutched it to her chest, jumped up and down, and cried, "This is it!" She was thrilled to find it again.

Now, Michelle reads a lot of books. She's probably read hundreds since she read The Twenty-One Balloons. But how many of them would make her jump for joy?

The books we read as children touch us in special ways. I think it's because we don't have all those adult filters in place through which we experience books later on. The special books we encounter as kids go straight to our hearts.

That's why I write for children. In the hope that perhaps something I have to say will register with one other person the way this book grabbed hold of Michelle's imagination.