• These Words Matter: Christine Lynn Herman

    These Words Matter: Christine Lynn Herman

    I loved stories long before I ever learned how to read. I spent my early childhood enraptured by my family’s imagination, listening to elaborate bedtime renditions of classic Grimm’s fairytales mixed with original characters my family had decided to throw in, just for fun. Most of my extended family have a fondness for a good yarn and a storyteller’s ear. A simple trip to the grocery store becomes a three-act event that hits just as many beats as the traditional hero’s journey, and our own pasts and personal histories all feel like part of a collective mythos that’s told and retold at parties and holidays. I always knew I was…

  • These Words Matter: Kathi Appelt

    These Words Matter: Kathi Appelt

    I didn’t begin my life dreaming of becoming a writer. No, I began it dreaming of being a cowgirl. I longed to put on my Stetson hat, strap on my chaps, and ride into the sunset atop my trusty steed, which was almost always a palomino. Together, my pony and I would keep the cattle herded, make sure the bad guys landed in jail, and make sure all the stars were dusted off so that they twinkled like mad in the big, open sky. It was a lusty dream, I tell you, the key and most important element being… horse! I was a girl who couldn’t get enough of them.…

  • These Words Matter: Peternelle van Arsdale

    These Words Matter: Peternelle van Arsdale

    This is a difficult question for me to answer because there were many books that contributed to me being a reader, but there is one (trilogy) that stands head and shoulders above the rest in turning me into a writer. Allow me to explain… Being a writer was not a lifelong dream of mine. If you’d told me when I was in my twenties that I would one day be a novelist, I’d have laughed. When I was about eight years old, I flirted with the idea of keeping a journal and got myself a white pleather-covered diary with a lock and key. I had the idea that having something…

  • These Words Matter: Rachel Caine

    The first book I can remember reading all on my own was a collection of fairytales. Not the usual ones; this was an old edition, probably from the early 1900s, of the darker versions of the stories. It had gorgeous Art Nouveau illustrations and it was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. I barely understood most of the stories, but I read it over and over again. After that, I wanted to read more. Lots more. I quickly discovered that the “approved books for girls” at the school library (beyond Nancy Drew mysteries, which I devoured) were all about dating, love, and babysitting, and I wasn’t there for it. I wanted…

  • These Words Matter: Kit Frick

    These Words Matter: Kit Frick

    I didn’t pick up reading particularly quickly. Already the oldest in my class—age seven in first grade—I was outpaced by the kids who had been self-taught at three or four, and then by the six-year-olds who picked up reading lickety-split. By the middle of first grade, I was still struggling to read with Dick and Jane, Spot the dog, and Puff the cat. (Remember those “reading books” commonly used in classrooms all the way from the 1930s through the 90s?) If memory serves, I was treading water in my classroom’s “yellow” group for months, eager to move into the “green” group—the kids reading avidly and without assistance. At some point…

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