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A singular connection

The Secret SchoolLast week, when at a con­fer­ence at Shenan­doah Uni­ver­si­ty, I was asked to sign a copy of The Secret School. First, how­ev­er, I was told a sto­ry. The book belonged to a girl, and her father, a US sol­dier in Afghanistan, had tak­en a copy with him. Via Skype, he read the book to his daugh­ter, chap­ter by chap­ter from afar. I was touched by this account, not least by the notion that this man chose to take a book along to read to his child, when sure­ly he is lim­it­ed by what he can car­ry. There are all kinds of hon­ors giv­en to authors, and I have had my share of them, but this was a sin­gu­lar one. Some­times, in the world of children’s’ books, we for­get that one of the most vital things we writ­ers do is facil­i­tate con­nec­tions, not mere­ly between author and read­er, but between par­ent and child, teacher and child, grand­par­ent and child . .  . And so forth. What is worth cel­e­brat­ing is not the author. Tru­ly, it’s about those con­nec­tions. We should nev­er for­get that.

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