I had the privilege to join Ohio writer Erin McCarthy at a juvenile correction facility today, where she spoke with approximately 10 incarcerated girls, their librarian and two instructors. (Erin writes under the name Erin Lynn for her young adult novels.)
After Erin introduced herself and talked a little about what it’s like to be a writer in her genre of romance and young adult novels, the girls asked a flurry of questions about the writing life and getting published.
There wasn’t a moment’s pause in the 45 minutes Erin talked with them.
The girls also eagerly shared titles of books they’d read and favorite authors and lined up afterwards to have Erin sign their copies of her book, Demon Envy.
I sat on the sidelines with the librarian and felt like I was seeing something more real than the statistics we get about kids no longer being excited about books. And it’s not the first time I’ve witnessed this kind of reaction by kids (or adults) to authors and books.
Maybe it’s because I travel in book circles, but I wonder sometimes if – like a normal day in the news – we’re getting Henny Penny’s alarmist version of what’s happening in our reading world.
The sky may be falling with kids being pulled more toward electronics than books, but it’s not an all-or-nothing kind of trend.
Some, dare I say many, kids want books, and more books, paperbacks and hardbound books, and they get excited about them, too. Even teen-aged girls who live tough lives.