Happy International Children's Book Day!
In case you couldn't tell, we're passionate about children's books here at Second Story — especially ones that have the power to change lives.
So for International Children's Book Day, we asked the five authors of our latest books for kids and teens: "What book inspired you to write for young readers?” From a fan-favourite series, to a familiar red-headed heroine, and not so much a book but a person who encouraged a life-long love of reading, this list is sure to inspire you to revisit the children's books that made you fall in love with the written word.
Looks like April 2nd is shaping up to be quite a day! I have a new book out, Breaking Faith, which launches on April 2nd and it also happens to be International Children’s Book Day. So, I’ve been posed the question, what kids' book inspired me to write for young people? That’s an easy one—or should I say seven. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling most definitely motivated me to write for young adult readers. The books educate, inspire, and instil important life lessons about loyalty, friendship, responsibility, and tolerance, while being thoroughly entertaining—which explains their unparalleled success. I loved reading and talking about them with my daughters and then reading them to my class. Though my books are very different, I like to think that they carry a message, a subtle one, but a strong one just the same. The difference is that my protagonists are always female!
E. Graziani is a teacher/librarian, author, and speaker. She is the author of War in my Town — one of the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens and finalist in the Hamilton Arts Council 2016 Literary Awards for Best Non-Fiction—as well as two young adult novels Alice of the Rocks and Alice–Angel of Time, and a novella Jess Under Pressure. She incorporates strong female characters into her writing to inspire her readers and regularly speaks to young people about her books and the publishing process. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and four daughters.
"The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland." - L.M. Montgomery
Books played a large part in my life growing up in Vancouver. My parents were voracious readers and they passed their love of literature on to their children. I can’t recall a bedtime without a story or a car trip without a poem. I spent my summer holidays adventuring through the UK with Enid Blyton’s Philip, Jack, Dinah and Lucy-Ann (whom I thought of as Lucky Ann) and Kiki the parrot and my winters shivering in the attic with Sarah Crewe.
Every room in our house had a book shelf, including the bathrooms, so when asked, “What children’s book inspired you to write for young people?” many come to mind: Never Cry Wolf; People of the Deer; The Call of the Wild; White Fang; A Little Princess; Charlotte’s Web; Winnie the Pooh; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Black Beauty; and countless others.
However, one story spoke directly to my childhood dream of becoming a writer and that was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables. In Anne I found a kindred spirit, a bosom buddy; a young girl who spent as much time making up stories in her head as I did. When I entered Anne’s world, I felt less uneasy about my own vivid imagination. When Anne declared, “It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” I agreed.
My life has been enriched in different ways by the many books I’ve read but it’s L.M. Montgomery’s Anne that inspired me to become a writer.
Julie Burtinshaw is an award-winning author of novels for young adults, including The Darkness Between the Stars, The Perfect Cut, The Freedom of Jenny, Adrift, and Dead Reckoning. Julie writes with young people in mind because she insists on asking “why?” and so do they. She believes her readers face challenges with hope, and hardship with optimism. They are fighting to find their way in life—just like the characters in her books. Julie teaches writers’ workshops in high schools across Canada and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I love my job and I’m proud to be a children’s author and illustrator but I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. In fact, as a child, not only did I not like to read, I couldn’t read—at least not until grade four.
I have a learning disability and was very lucky to have an awesome teacher in grade four who took the time to teach me to read. Even after learning to read in grade four, reading was very hard for me.
I didn’t like books until grade nine when a fantastic librarian gave me a book she thought I would like. Once I discovered books where I connected to the characters I learned to LOVE to read. That’s when I decided to write books for children. I wanted to get other children—like me—to love books too, but when I told people I wanted to write books they said, “You’re never going to write a book. You can barely read one.”
“You will never be” was a comment I was used to hearing, one people always told me and up until grade four I believed them. Once I learned to read things changed. I stopped listening to those people. I stopped letting them determine what I could and could not achieve in my life. So now if someone tells me I will never… I not only don’t listen, I set out to prove them wrong—and you should too.
The book that inspired me to write for young readers is Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice? by Paula Danziger. My mother gave it to me as a teen and it was the first time I read about kids like me. The characters are real people—they fight, they laugh, they cry, they worry about money, and they love each other in the same way the families I knew did—imperfectly.
As a writer in my twenties, I was lucky enough to meet Ms. Danziger. She was doing an author visit in a tiny bookstore in a small town and I was the only person who showed up. At that time in her career, she was very well-known, but she took the whole thing in stride. She was friendly to me and the staff, a larger than life character in purple glitter Doc Marten boots, and seemed pleased to have me to talk to. She asked about my writing and dreams. I was too poor at the time to buy a book, but had brought my worn copy of Can You Sue… along and she wrote in it: “To Joëlle—I hope to see your name on a book jacket someday! Paula Danziger.” When my first book came out, I did a signing that no one came to and while I sat there very alone, I reminded myself how gracious the great Paula Danziger was and I smiled and had a good time anyway.
Joëlle Anthony loves the rain, which is good because she was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and now lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia, Canada. She's worked as an actress, a Minor League Baseball souvenir hawker, the Easter Bunny, and various other not-so-odd jobs. Now she mostly writes novels, but she still dabbles in sketch comedy, nonfiction articles, and teaching writing to both kids and adults. She recently wrote and starred in her first full-length play, along with her husband. A Month of Mondays is her first middle-grade novel. Her YA novels include Restoring Harmony, The Right & the Real, and Speed of Life (writing as J. M. Kelly).
The book that inspired me to start writing YA was Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. I was completely spellbound by not only the brilliant storytelling but also the quality of the writing. That was the first time I remember thinking, “I want to do this” and actually going to jot ideas down in a notebook. I try to go back and read it once a year.