Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What does literature inspire?

Remember last month when I wrote about the Harry Potter Alliance, and the work they were doing? They got loads of support from authors and fans alike for their Helping Haiti Heal project. They were able to meet their goal of raising over $100,000 to send three planes full of supplies to Haiti. The planes were named Harry, Ron and Hermione, and were sent in conjunction with Partners in Health. You can read all about it here, and see wonderful pictures of the planes and supplies here. And if any of you donated, thank you.

I know the Harry Potter stories are an extreme example, but isn't it wonderful that an author can write a story that takes on a life of its own once it's out there in the world? That kind of inspiration makes me think more about the intention of where my story is going. I'd love to one day inspire hope and positive action in a reader.

I thought about the kinds of actions my stories might inspire. No one in my stories saves the world, but my characters do change for the better in small ways. They might inspire a reader to be kinder to her sister or her grandmother. They may inspire someone to be a little less selfish, a little more honest, and a little braver. All of these actions are part of growing up for any kid. I like to think it's the books they read that make the growth a little less painful and a lot more fun.


Brenda said...

I remember the books I read as a kid not for the moral message they conveyed, but for the actions of the characters, the choices they made, the difficulties they faced. Sure there were "messages" underlying, but I wasn't aware of them at the time. I just remember wanting to BE Laura Ingalls and Nancy Drew. In retrospect, both are strong female characters and provided role models of what I hoped to grow into (although I can still barely find my missing glove, let alone anything else). Actions speak louder than words in children's books, I think (is that possible?) and if your main character is honest and kind, chances are good that a reader will see those actions as soemthing to strive for.

Michelle said...

Brenda, I agree. And yes, we often wanted to be the characters in the books. Steph and I both were all about the activities in Little House. Hence, the knitting.

Bruce Coville once said at a conference I attended that the best children's books have a moral dilemma at the heart, in which the character has to make a tough choice. He's a whiz at burying that moral dilemma in a big pile of funny.