Reading to my daughter tonight, as usual, she chose the books. First, she chose one called Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. “I really like books by Todd Parr,” she said. She’d already been reading it to one of her babies when I came in. [My daughter has a lot of babies. Often, when I tell her the name of an author or illustrator, she says, “I have a baby named” (fill in the blank).]
In the rush of the day, it would be easy to just get to the meat and read the book, rather than taking a few seconds to name the author and illustrator. Some books we have (and some she picks from the library) are so ugly, cheesy, and poorly written that I don’t feel like elevating the schmucks who created them by giving them name. Meow. (Though those schmucks are probably making a living at what they do, so I should refrain from sneering, at least from that whole “making a living by writing books” angle.) But even with these stinky books, each time, when I read the title, then “written by…” and “illustrated by…” the child comes to know that there are people behind each book.
My daughter lives with two parents who are writers. As she grows up, she’ll know a lot–maybe too much–about what it means to be a writer. So many writers bemoan the current state of publishing…it’s a sad time for books, some say. But we could do a lot to improve the morale of writers if we do this simple act: when reading a book to a child, include the name of the writer and illustrator. Every time. Every book.
If we do, maybe that lucky child who doesn’t know any writers personally will come to know that someone sat and thought about the book, someone chose words and painted images to tell the story that lulls her to sleep.