When I read Maggie’s post about the Thank A Writer project, I knew immediately I wanted to join in. As I thought about who I’d write to, it struck me that I feel more sincere gratitude to authors whose work affected my students than I do to authors who shaped me personally. This is not to say that I haven’t been significantly influenced by people like Lorrie Moore and Dave Eggers and Anne Lamott, but that as a person who watched middle school students work through what some would say are the toughest years of a young person’s life, I was always deeply moved when I encountered an author who was able somehow to get inside the brain of one of those kids.
So I’ve chosen the best book-reading stories I can remember from my days in the classroom, and I’ll be writing thank yous to the authors involved. I’ve read at least some of each of their work and I’ve watched as bright, confused, hilarious, hormonal, desperately insecure kids came alive in response to their books. It’s one of the best things I can remember and it is a gift.
My first note went to Carl Hiaasen, whose books for young readers are all fantastic. I never once heard a complaint about any of them, and I heard a lot of complaining about a lot of books over the course of the six years I spent teaching.
Who would you thank, if you had to thank a writer?