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Monday, February 11, 2019

Be A Reader - Every Day

“Read something of interest every day - something of interest to you, not to your teacher or your best friend or your minister/rabbi/priest. Comics count. So does poetry. So do editorials in your school newspaper. Or a biography of a rock star. Or an instructional manual. Or the Bible.” – Jane Yolen

Born in New York City on this date in 1939, Yolen was immersed in writing almost from birth, the daughter of a journalist and public relations writer.  She started writing in elementary school and created a “newspaper” in her Manhattan apartment building while still in junior high, a time when she also wrote multi-page essay about New York State’s manufacturing industry – in rhyme.

In high school, she won a Scholastic magazine poetry contest, and edited and wrote for the school newspaper, something she continued at Smith College.  There, she also wrote a book of poetry, was president of the Press Board, and penned song lyrics for theater productions in which she was involved.   On her 21st birthday, she sold her first book (nonfiction) about female pirates titled Pirates in Petticoats.  “After that,“ she said, “I was a book writer for good.”

The author or editor of nearly 400 books and short stories, her best known tales are The Devil's Arithmetic, a Holocaust novella; the Nebula Award-winning short story Sister Emily's Lightship; a novelette Lost Girls; and her children’s books Owl Moon, The Emperor and the Kite, and the Commander Toad series. 
                       Yolen said a writing technique she has always employed is to read everything aloud, no matter whether it’s a novel, an essay, or a children’s picture book.  “I believe the eye and ear are different ‘listeners’,” she explained.  “So as writers, we have to please both.”

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