22 Apr

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

-Madeleine L’Engle

            I saw this quote earlier this week, and it made me happy. One of my summer goals is to start writing a children’s book series. It’s going to be about a little boy who finds a stray cat under a dumpster and brings him home to join the other two cats he adopted. It will be about family and finding a place where you belong, which sounds silly, but it will be cute I PROMISE. Mostly because the illustrations will be based off of this sweet baby:


When I was little, my mom used to read me The Midnight Farm, over and over; it was my favorite. It’s the story of a mother who brings her son to their barn at night to see all the animals. At least that’s what it meant to me. To my mom it was the story of a mother comforting a scared child, showing him the beauty of the dark, and how she could keep him safe.

“Here is the dark of the midnight farm, safe and still and full and warm, deep in the dark and free from harm, in the dark of the midnight farm.”

I always brought it for her to read because sometimes she would cry when she read it, and since I was weird, I liked that. I didn’t understand why she cried, but I knew it had something to do with words and how they made her feel.  For the rest of my childhood I read voraciously, because I wanted to feel that too. I wanted words to make me laugh and cry and hope, forever.

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie was another one of my favorites. MOSTLY BECAUSE IT WAS ABOUT GIRL NAMED ABBY/ WHATEVER. But also because it was about a little girl who was learning to be brave, something I was trying so hard to do.

The Velveteen Rabbit was important as well. Hearing my mom read it just reinforced my belief that all my stuffed animals were real (because they were). It taught me about love—how much we all need to feel it and how when we do, it transforms us.

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

— The Velveteen Rabbit

I think that’s a lesson I’m still learning.

Did your parents read you books when you were growing up? If so, which ones were your favorites?



  1. elysiasmith April 22, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    my favorites are probably, Stuart Little and The Wind in the Willows.

  2. leeraloo April 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    You should have included Junie B. Jones! Even though we are totally too old to have read them!

    I was always fond of “Is Your Mama a Llama?” “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is another good one, as far as picture books go. Yeah, “Stuart Little” was also good, and “Charlotte’s Web.” Also my mom started reading me “The Chronicles of Narnia” when I was really young, like 7 or 8, and I had to tell her to stop because I was way too afraid of the White Witch. Mom also used to make me these cassette tapes which just had her reading a ton of books on them and I would listen to them to go to sleep. My favorite was about this cow that wants to go to the moon, but I don’t remember what it was called.

  3. Maria April 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    So now I am crying again because I loved that time of my life. I have lots of children’s books I have written down just waiting to be wrote. Remember the little fur book you liked to carry around

  4. Maria April 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    oh I forgot- I love The Little Prince!!!

  5. Lindsay April 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Mine are Charlotte’s Web and Winnie the Pooh, and it was my dad who read them to me (repeatedly of course). My two favorite picture books were The Little Engine That Could and Horton Hatches the Egg. I’m pretty sure most of my life’s philosophies can be found between those books!

    • Maria April 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      oh I have to agree Liddy i think all of life’s philosphies is found in Winnie the Pooh. You know i have a few books i would like to write about the Cowdi Sisters-Liddy, Whitty and Kitty

  6. Joe Ricciardi April 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    you should have written about graduating from college: it would have been much easier on your mother and I

    just kidding – great blog! thanks

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