by Natalie Bright


A recent Publishers Weekly article announced a new initiative involving publishers and more than 30 communities working to make popular eBooks available for free to children. The Open eBooks app is being developed by the New York Public Library. More kids reading and discovering stories is so exciting. I hope the ConnectED Library Challenge is a huge success.

For the Love of Books!

Remembering the joy I found as a child from my favorite books makes me think of Eric Carle’s THE VERY BUSY SPIDER.

My son loved that book. His father and I took turns reading it out loud. Every. Single. Night. Never mind that I joined a book club and received 2 to 3 new picture books each month. Our boy wasn’t interested. The sheer drudgery of reading Mr. Carle’s book over and over for many years became almost unbearable. My husband and I took turns talking in goofy voices for the animal parts, seeing who could keep a straight face the longest.

Being desperate, I offered a brilliant compromise. We would read two stories every night. One of his choosing and one of my choosing, from the growing pile of book club treasures. My son thought this over for several long seconds. “O-tay,” he says. “But we wead busy spider two times.”

So that’s what we did. One new book and then the spider book every night. Twice. Outsmarted by a three year old, I admit it, but who can argue with that logic when someone you care about loves a book that much?

Dyslexia Diagnosis

Several years later, when my son was in elementary school and struggling, we discovered he had dyslexia. After training sessions and classes which included parent’s participation as well, I understood his fascination with THE VERY BUSY SPIDER. It has clean lines, simple yet detailed illustrations, pages filled with white space; that book literally relaxed his over active brain. The story calmed him down after a day of sensory overload.

Honestly, I still cringe every time I see that cover. No matter how much I dreaded reading that book, what if I had insisted on reading the other books instead? His heart would have been broken, and his over-active mind would have never settled down for sleep.

Readers Have to Connect

As a writer I stand in awe of THE VERY BUSY SPIDER. I learned two lessons from my son and that book:

  1. Some readers may not connect with your stories. Every reader is different.
  2. Stop writing to catch the latest trend. If you’ve never reached the end, it might be time to start something new. If you’re not really into it, how can your readers connect? Write the kinds of books that burn in your heart and mind.

When I dropped the drudgery of writing to what’s popular, my clip file and pub credits grew. The characters that spoke to me gained me a literary agent.

Book Lovers to Do List:

Long before I was a writer, I was a book lover and reader. Here are a few ways we can all promote the joys of reading.

* Recommend a good book to a child or parent, even if it’s not yours.

* Post a book review for an author.

* Comment on an industry related blog and share the link.

* Keep writing the stories of your heart.