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Friday, March 25, 2016

Every book is a light


“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” Kate DiCamillo

Born on this date (March 25, 1964) in Philadelphia, DiCamillo now makes her home in Minneapolis where she is one of the world’s leading writers of fiction for kids at all reading levels, usually.  Her exemplary career has already produced two Newbery Medals for The Tale of Despereaux (2003) and Flora and Ulysses (2013), one of just 6 people in the world to win two such awards.   Her best-known books for young children are the “Mercy Watson” series illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
In 2014 and 2015 DiCamillo was appointed by the Library of Congress as the U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

Unlike many other highly successful writers who devote their time strictly to writing, DiCamillo works full-time in a used bookstore, where she does some writing each weekday.  “I get up. I drink a cup of coffee. I think,” she said.  “The last thing I want to do is write.  Then I go to the computer and write.  My goal is two pages a day, five days a week. I never want to write, but I'm always glad that I have done it. After I write, I go to work at the bookstore.”

When I lived in Minnesota I always hoped to meet her but never did.  At the time I wanted to tell her how much I had enjoyed reading her absolutely wonderful Young Adult book Because of Winn Dixie.  If you have not read it, go get a copy and do so!  Meanwhile, getting the chance to meet her remains on my list of things to do, and I assume I’ll find her paging through some books at her bookstore.

Every well-written book is a light for me,” she said.  “When you write, you use other writers and their books as guides in the wilderness.” 


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