This is Part II of my answer to the question, Why did you write Darius Daniels: Game On!? It’s a great question and one that I often get from readers, whether students, teachers, librarians, parents, or adults, in general.
In Part I, I said my mother’s love helped me find the strength to persevere over 14 years to finish Darius Daniels, because the book began as a tribute to her remarkable life.
And then, remembering what I regularly witnessed in children also helped me to persevere.
I’ve said before that I’ve never met a child who wasn’t hungry to learn to read or read better. Many either didn’t have a lot of experience with reading or they didn’t have good experiences. So, as the children and I worked together, I quickly saw their fears and angst dissolve. What held them back disappeared into the ashes of time as confidence with the force of a wildfire fueled them on. They had fallen in love. They had fallen in love with themselves as readers.
I watched them declare themselves capable, good, and motivated. And that pushed me to persevere, to keep going, to pick up the manuscript again after it had sat on that proverbial shelf for 10 years.
I persevered because I loved seeing children who were diagnosed with disabilities – mental, emotional, and physical disabilities, children four, five, six grade levels behind with no diagnosed disabilities – become inspired to open up books and explore new worlds. I loved seeing them discover that reading for pleasure was a form of play, and they were utterly qualified to participate.
I persevered because I wanted to write a book for these children that I call hungry readers. I wanted to write a book about these children. I wanted to write a book for and about all of us as human beings who need to go somewhere special and come back loving ourselves a whole lot more.
Have you ever seen a hungry reader transform right in front of your eyes? I’d love to hear the story.