…I learned from a children’s book. Opening keynote by Anita Silvey.
She’s wearing a hat. Love that. I should wear hats more often.
Concept of the book is to talk with celebrities or people who have otherwise distinguished themselves about what books influenced them as children.
Drew up a list of 500 people that would have something interesting to say about books. Wanted people who would write something interesting.
Would wake up in the morning wondering, “Who do I get to talk to today? Will it be Kathy Bates or Pete Seeger?” Many chose not to write, but to be interviewed. Talked to some very interesting people.
What was her biggest surprise? Talking to Kirk Douglas. His favorite book is the Bobbsey Twins. (big laugh) His parents didn’t speak English and her sister was the first one to speak English. She would sit him on the couch and read to him, and that’s how he learned English.
Maurice Sendak chose “Harold and the Purple Crayon” – an artist can create his own world with the tools available to him.
Many of the people she talked to chose their career based on a book. David McCullough said, “I met my first revisionist historian when I was six.” The book he chose was “Ben and Me”, about Benjamin Franklin.
Lovely stories of people whose lives were very influenced by reading a book as a child. Children read for plot or story, or they read for character. Has yet to have a child say, “I love they way the author used metaphors.” Most people, therefore, talked about a character they loved.
Judy Blume loved “Madeline” so much she stole it from the library and didn’t admit to having it for 20 years. She says she has spent the rest of her life making it up to librarians.
Jo Marsh in “Little Women” was very influential for many women. Julienne Moore and Hilary Clinton, for example, loved the book.
Brad Paisley argued with his wife about naming their son after his favorite character. They argued up until it was time to leave the hospital. They came to a compromise: their son is William Huckleberry, after Huckleberry Finn.
Interviewed Andrew Wyeth. His father was working on the illustrations for “Treasure Island” he would read to Andrew every day from the book. When he saw one of the paintings for the book, he knew he had to be a painter. Robert Montgomery, years later, saw the painting about Wyeth’s mantle and commented that when he saw the painting, he knew he had to become an actor.
This sounds like a lovely book – I have to pick up a copy. I wonder how many people fondly remember Nancy Drew, as I do. And this makes me remember back to the books I read and loved as a child, and start to think of the books I can introduce to my grandchildren as they grow. How will they be influenced?