Following my Daughter’s Example

So awhile ago, my daughter sent a letter to her favourite author and received a response. It was pretty much the highlight of last year for the whole family- in fact, I still get shivers when I think about it.

This came up again during my summer reading program this year, where I inaugurated a reader’s circle for kids aged 10-12. Now this circle was a little unique in that it was bilingual in a way you find only in Montreal. The kids would speak whatever language they needed to in order for everybody to be understood. In fact, most were trilingual. On the first day, we were talking about our favourite authors and I mentioned the letter my daughter wrote and the response she got back. I could almost see their little ears perking up. I then suggested that the following week we write our own letters. They gave me a list of the authors they would like to contact and I said I would get the addresses, the paper and envelopes and even mail their letters for them.

The next week, more kids showed up. And they all wanted to write to their favourite authors. So we sat down, and I showed them how a letter should look like (most didn’t know). They sat down and spent an hour happily engrossed in writing. Here is a list of some of the authors they wrote to, just in case you are curious about what kids aged 10-12 are reading:

  • Jeff Kinney (author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and by far the most popular author to write to)
  • Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball)
  • Laura B. friedman (author of the Mallory series)
  • R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Jim Davies (Garfield)
  • Holly Black (Spiderwick)
  • Michel Lévesque (Arielle Queen)
  • ZEP (Titeuf)

There were more, but I can’t remember them now. The point is, even after making a whole bunch of strangers’ kids write to their favourite author, did I finally do it? Did I finally write to an author that moved me? No.

So when I read this book called Marcelo in the Real World by by Francisco X. Stork, about a highly functional autistic teenage boy whose father forces him to work at his law firm for the summer instead of staying in his comfort zone and working with the ponies at his old school, I decided it was time. The book moved me. I thought it was a simple, elegant story written from an interesting perspective. Why not spend five minutes dashing off an email to the author telling him so? So I did. I found Mr. Stork’s website and sent him an email (although I am all for snail mail, it will just take me too long and by the time I get around to it, the feeling will be gone).

And guess what? A couple of days later, I got a reply! It is still in my inbox, a message from Stork, Francisco. It was just a one line, heartfelt thank you but it made me go all quiet inside. I had to stay still for a moment in order not to burst into tears.

So yeah. I think I will make it a habit. I don’t need to write huge letters- just a quick email saying how much I liked their book. That way, it doesn’t take me long to say something that would not get said otherwise, and the author doesn’t feel like they need to spend much time responding, if at all. Because after all, it’s always nice to hear that somebody likes our stuff.

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