Dayanara, of Quincy, Illinois, wrote: “. . . my dream is to become an author someday. My dad would never approve of it though. He wants me to become someone who can change the world, but he doesn’t understand writing can change the world.”
But . . . can writing change the world? Having just been emerged in the world of the American Revolution so as to write Sophia’s War, the evidence is clear that such writing as Tom Paine’s Common Sense, and “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . “ changed the world. But since Dayanara wrote to me, perhaps, it’s fair to ask if fiction can change the world? More specifically, can writing for young people change the world?
I am struck by how many adults vividly recall books they read as young people and with an enthusiastic memory for detail that is striking considering the years which have passed. I’ve noticed, too, how many people recall, in particular, a teacher who read a lot to a class. I’ve often been told by older women that, when younger, they read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle many times. Only rarely however, did they tell me what they did because of that reading.
Speaking for myself, I do believe And To Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, opened my imagination. The Wind in the Willows gave me a new awareness of the natural world. Treasure Island, informed me what a boy (Jim Hawkins) could do.
Beyond all else, however, I believe reading taught me how to think. And what I read was, of course, writing.