The final address at the Teen BookCon was given by author Sharon Draper. This was the speech I most needed to hear that day. I’ve never met Sharon, nor heard her speak, and the awesome thing is that she was speaking to teenagers, about teenagers—teens who write, and teens who don’t. And I just happened to be pretending to be a teen, so it worked out.
Author problem #347: I have zero experience in talking to teens. (This is one of the reasons I crashed Teen Book Con.)
Besides being an author, Sharon has taught school for 30 years, and her vocal skills show that experience. She was engaging and funny. She read out loud several pages from her books—segments that absolutely hooked the audience. But more importantly, she was profound.
She said something like (I’m totally paraphrasing): Some people are born with a natural talent for writing. Others work very, very hard to learn how to write because they love it and it’s what they want to do. But not everyone is meant to be a writer, and that’s okay. Everyone has something they are either good at, or something they love enough to work hard on, and that is a good place to focus. Not everyone needs to be a writer.
But everyone, EVERYONE can be a reader. Besides novels, there is nonfiction, and magazines and short stories and biographies, and a million other types of books to choose from. Those people who don’t think they’re readers just simply haven’t found the right books or the right materials.
Shannon’s words made me think of my fifteen-year-old daughter. For years, she has insisted that she is not a reader. That she doesn’t like reading at all. But, um, right before The Hunger Games movie came out, she read through the entire series in ONE WEEK. (Not a reader? WHATEVER!) Yeah. I agree with Sharon. Everyone can be a reader.
Isn’t everyone in the world just looking for a good story? What do you think?