Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.
Somehow in the last week or two, I discovered the Chicago Humanities Festival and that two authors I admire, Erika Sánchez and Jason Reynolds, would be speaking on the same day. I convinced a teacher friend to go with me and we had an amazing time. Both of these writers are remarkable and it was an honor to hear from them.
They are more than writers, they are activists. Their words make a difference.
I took lots of notes but a few stand out to me. Erika said, "You have permission to write what you want to write." I love that! Sometimes I need permission to write my stories. Even when I know I have to write my truth...it's still important to know that it's not just okay, it's important. She also talked about stories people think or believe about other people and how we can prove the narrative wrong.
Jason Reynolds brought me to tears. I heard him speak on a panel at NCTE last year in Atlanta. His words resonated with me and were just as impactful this afternoon. He commented that, "Real recognizes real." And he explained that he rights reality for young adults because they need it. Too many young people don't see themselves in books and stories or have adults who care and see them. He said, "We don't talk about anger in a real way in this country." How right is that? Too many people would rather pretend anger - or any other emotion - doesn't exist. They'd rather sweep it under the rug or pretend it's not happening instead of just talking about it. But kids need people who will be real with them and talk about the good and the bad of life. I'm so glad we have his books and that they can help adults and kids have conversations.
Finally, Jason talked about writing. He gave some advice to a young woman who stood up and asked about writing. He said, "You know what makes writing special? The difficulty. Easy or hard, all that matters is are you gonna do it or not?" Yes! Writing is hard...but as much as I complain about it, I love it and I'm doing it.
What are you writing? What are you celebrating? I'd love to hear about it!