01 October 2007
Why Write For Children? and a Reader Challenge!
Here's some food for thought for any aspiring authors lurking about town. As I always say, there's nothing like a strong dose of Nobel-Prize winner to give you a much-needed kick in the pants.
This statement, originally prepared by Mr. Singer for the occasion of his acceptance of the National Book Award in 1970 for A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw, was read to the assembled guests at the Nobel Prize banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm on December 10, 1978.
Why I Write For Children
by Isaac Bashevis Singer
There are five hundred reasons why I began to write for children, but to save time I will mention only ten of them.
Number 1: Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about the critics.
Number 2: Children don't read to find their identity.
Number 3: They don't read to free themselves of guilt, to quench their thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation.
Number 4: They have no use for psychology.
Number 5: They detest sociology.
Number 6: They don't try to understand Kafka or Finnegans Wake.
Number 7: They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.
Number 8: They love interesting stories, not commentary, guides, or footnotes.
Number 9: When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority.
Number 10: They don't expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions.
Reader Challenge: Since Mr. Singer only gave us 10 of his 500 reasons, let's see if we can flesh out the list a bit. Vi got the ball rolling with number 11. I don't imagine we'll make it anywhere near 500, but let's see how far we can get. The gauntlet has been thrown down... who will pick it up and use it to slap me in the face?
(Note: This list was brought to my attention by a worldly and wise girlfriend and a rockin' used bookstore. Two of my favorite things in the world!)