This year I’m honored to be one of the judges for Letters About Literature, a Kansas Center for the Book project in which students in grades 4 to 12 write letters to authors of a books that have changed their lives. As I read through the submissions, I keep thinking WOW, do these kids know how to write, or what! The letters are written to authors ranging from Dr. Seuss to Jane Austen, and they’ve had me chuckling at times and choking back tears at others.
And every single one of them has humbled me. These letters remind me just how important children’s literature is. To kids and young adults, books aren’t just entertainment; they’re companions, friends, and—very often—a beacon in a confusing and sometimes painful world.