Great Books Inspire Great Readers

January 05, 2015

My six-year-old granddaughter recently shared her thoughts about the “Magic Tree House” series in an article about Mary Pope Osborne in the Carolina Alumni Review. Beth McNichol, the article’s author, begins, “If Lea Dardess could get a meeting with Mary Pope Osborne (’72), the two might make literary magic together. She has an idea that she thinks would be perfect for Osborne, the bestselling children’s book author. If you can picture it: Jack and Annie, brother and sister who time-travel in a tree house full of magical books, find a Susan B. Anthony dollar with a mysterious ‘M’ on the back. They use their powers to find the real Anthony, who needs their help.”

McNichol goes on to say, “Lea could write her own story about the women’s suffragist, but she’s got enough on her plate now that she has a spelling test every Friday. And she needs to reserve some time for dreaming about becoming a dolphin trainer.” Children who are enthralled with Osborne’s books see themselves in the books. Lea’s mother, my daughter-in-law, discovers her stealth-reading in the evening after lights out.

Lea finds enchantment in books. She and her friends are the readers of the future. We are too easily discouraged by articles about declining readership and statistics that give us such depressing information as “42 percent of all college graduates never read a book after college” (Jenkins Group) or “one in four people did not read a book in the previous year” (Associated Press poll, 2007).

I am an optimist. I admit it. I read these statistics to mean the glass is half full. Fifty-eight percent of college graduates did read some sort of book, as did three out of four people who responded to the AP poll. Great books inspire great readers. Parents who love books and introduce their children to reading give them a gift. Children like Lea may be tomorrow’s writers, too. And the North Carolina Writers’ Network will be here for them.

For the first time since the economy collapsed in 2008, the Network has more than a thousand members, and we are working hard to serve more writers in the future. Thanks to our members and to the support of the North Carolina Arts Council, as well the adept management of our Executive Director and his excellent staff, we are holding our own financially.

North Carolina Writers’ Network Newsletter, Spring, 2012