Monday, September 6, 2010

Why Children's Books?

My Book Lover Life Goal #1 is to work at a children’s book company.  Currently, I’m aiming at an entry-level editorial assistant job.   I can’t tell you (but I’m sure I will at some point) about the countless number of contacts, mostly Hamilton alums, that I’ve met with hoping to hear advice, gain knowledge about the publishing industry, and get my name out there.  There’s one thing I have to say about those who work in the publishing industry more than anything else: they are the nicest, most helpful people!  The only problem is, despite those meetings and hours of research online, there aren’t many jobs.  There are editorial assistant jobs working for academic publishers or marketing jobs at children’s book companies.   But that isn’t what I want (and, in full disclosure, if I’m still the very unemployed book lover in 3 more months I might try one of those to get my foot in the door…more on that later).  I want a job as an editorial assistant at a children’s book company.

But why children’s?

This one question is so key to what I want to accomplish in my life, and has impacted all my book lover goals.  You see, I wasn’t always a book lover.  In fact, I was a book hater. The turning point occurred when my third grade teacher, Mrs. Moore, handed me a choose-your-own-adventure book.  Until that time not only did I dislike reading, but I was a lower-level reader despite the many efforts of my mom and teachers.  Mrs. Moore changed all that with her ‘genre a month’ project, and for some reason, the choose-your-own-adventure book opened up the possibilities of reading for me.  Perhaps the format of choose-your-own-adventure books is what this very imaginative child needed to enjoy reading; I’m not quite sure what did it.  But by the end of the year I had devoured the choose-your-own-adventure selection in the school and public libraries, moved on to historical fiction and mystery books thanks to Mrs. Moore’s ‘genre a month’ project, had written more short stories than were assigned, and had moved from one of the lowest reading level groups to the highest by fourth grade.  For Halloween in fourth grade I was a book that I had written and illustrated myself, my little sister tagging along as Timothy the Tiger, the main character of my story.

One book changed my life.  Looking back, it wasn’t a great book.  Not an award winner by any means.  But it didn’t need to be.  It just took one book to spark my imagination and show me how wonderful the world of books could be.  I was a book lover from that day in the third grade, and I continue to be one.  I devour books, I majored in writing books, I picked extracurriculars that helped bring books alive for children, I volunteered at a literacy camp and a library in the children’s section.  And I want to work at a children’s book company.  I want to help find and publish books that will inspire children, just like that choose-your-own-adventure book did for me.  I am the Unemployed Book Lover, and the most frustrating thing of all, is until I become employed, my means to share my love of books and spread the joy of reading with children is limited.  A book can change a child’s life.  And that’s not just me being a dreamer.  It happened to me.

1 comment:

  1. Let me know when you start that bakery, I'm in!

    I thought I'd post some of the (hopefully) lesser-known young adult novels that I really loved, since I'm sure you'll be hearing many of the same titles over and over again. So, here goes:

    -Strawberry Hill and Edith Shay by A. Lafaye
    Lafaye used to work with my dad at SUNY Plattsburgh, which is where I first heard about her. While Edith Shay is her most popular and highly-acclaimed book, I was always a sucker for Strawberry Hill.

    -Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace
    This is an awesome mystery with an ending that will surprise you (at least, it surprised me when I was younger...).

    -Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
    Okay, I had an older brother, so that may have influenced my reading this book. But it's actually wonderful and touching.

    That's it for now, I really should be reading articles instead of children's lit, so you'll have to wait for more recommendations.