Monday, March 15, 2010

Of Harry Potter, My Grandfather, and Five Uses of Reading

Frequent readers of this blog may remember that my grandfather passed away at the end of last year. Yesterday I spoke at the Children's Literature Festival he founded, and that talk is now up on my website here:

Raised by Reading: A Life in Books from the Children's Literature Festival to Harry Potter

There are a number of other little tweaks throughout the site -- updating the front page with my upcoming appearances and Et Cetera with material recently added to the blog. Thanks for checking it all out!


  1. Cheryl, your talk was wonderful in so many ways that it is difficult to say anything other than "thanks for sharing". I am sure that wehrever he is your Papa is very proud of you.

  2. Cheryl,

    Thank you so much for sharing your talk with those of us who were not at the festival. Every word resonated--and by the end, I was bawling.

    ~ Andrea

    P.S. I love your Elizabeth Bennet motto, and I'm also a little worried about the Twi-hard fans of Edward Cullen.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to reading and to your Papa. Thank you for sharing!


  4. Cheryl,

    I've had the privilege of meeting your grandfather at the festival, and loved meeting him again in your speech.

    I am going to send the link to my dear friend C.S. Adler, who had to cancel at the last minute. She was so sad she could not come, but I know she will want to read your memories of your grandfather and the festival.

    Thank you.

  5. I miss waiting on the Harry Potter series *sigh*

  6. Cheryl -

    I'm sitting here with goosebumps - literally - on my arms, and a lump in my throat. It's incredibly clear to me why you do what you do and why you love it. When your grandfather talked to you about A Curse Dark as Gold, I can only imagine how you felt.

    I look at my 10-year-old daughter, who is also "retiring". She does not read books. She DEVOURS them. She reads faster than I do. She's read every Harry Potter book, much of Neil Gaiman's, loves Madison Finn, has skipped Twilight (thank you very much), but is also getting into Daniel Pinkwater (because I loved Daniel Pinkwater), the Happy Hollisters (because my wife loved them), and of course all the Little House books.

    She probably reads five-ten books a week, depending on the length, and you can see her withdrawing into those worlds. Fortunately, she's got a set of close friends and would still rather be with them than in Hogsmeade. Truth be told, however, I think she'd prefer to be in Hogsmeade WITH her friends.

    I had the same experience as you with Harry Potter. "What's this all about?" And then I read and read and read. And read to my kids, who now do it themselves. It's my depth of feeling for the characters of HP that inspires me to be a better writer.

    When my son was little, after I read him Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for the seventeenth time, he said, "How do I read?"

    He figured it out, as did his sister. Thank you for posting the talk. As you can guess, it has certainly had an impact on me.

  7. Patricia NesbittMarch 20, 2010 12:35 PM

    Cheryl: thanks for sharing the text of your talk with those of us who could not attend this conference. I envy your relationship with your grandfather. In today's mobile society, it is hard to maintain close family relationships.

    I appreciated the categories in your speech. As a teacher, I have grieved over students who lack any avenue of empowerment or escape, who use role models from TV, movies, or tabloids for their self-creation, who grow up without any meaningful connections from within or from outside of their family structure. I applaud the writers among us who can, through the magic of their words, provide these avenues for the young minds of today.

  8. I can't believe how much of this I just wasn't aware of. Thank you for bringing more information to this topic for me. I'm truly grateful and really impressed.