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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Applauding Flights of Fantasy

“Encourage children to write their own stories, and then don't rain on their parade. Don't say, 'That's not true.' Applaud flights of fantasy. Help with spelling and grammar, but stand up and cheer the use of imagination.” – Gail Carson Levine
Born in New York City on this date in 1947, bestselling writer Levine grew up wanting to be either a painter or an actress.  “I didn't want to be a writer,” she said with conviction.  “Most of the authors I liked were dead, so it didn't seem like a safe occupation.”

An avid reader as a girl, she immersed herself in fairy tales and loved the artwork that often accompanied those stories.  Gravitating toward art, she actually started her career illustrating for kids’ books before realizing that she really enjoyed doing the words more than the pictures.  That led to her re-working the Cinderella story into her first published book, the massively successful Ella Enchanted.     Since it’s publication in 1997 the book has sold millions, won the Newbery Award (for best children’s literature), and spawned an equally successful movie.  She now has written nearly two dozen best sellers, the most recent being 2017’s The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre.

Common messages from her books include the importance of kindness, selflessness, self-confidence and courage in the face of danger, but she said the most important thing she would share is that reading is crucial and kids emulate adults.    “If a big person invests time in reading, kids learn reading is important, the child is important, words are important, stories are important.”

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