Thursday 21 June 2018

What can we do? by Anne Booth.

First of all,  I believe that every single children's writer in this group has been looking on at the news these last days with horror and that the spectacle of babies and children being taken away from their parents at the American border is breaking their hearts. The fact that I know that, makes me very proud to be part of of this group and our profession and grateful to have a role within it. It is an honour to write for and about children, and I feel like doing our job helps us be in touch with what really matters. Meeting the children I write for, inspires me every time.

Last week I met this lovely boy who wrote me a letter to say he was my greatest fan! Every writer here will know how lovely such a letter is to receive. The school librarian really wanted me to meet him, and got permission from his mum for me to share his picture. He is 8, and he told me enthusiastically that he loves all the cute animals in the Lucy books. The children at the school are not from a privileged background, like so many prominent politicians doing horrible things. He is bright and open and tender and loving. He is wonderful. I felt so honoured that he took the trouble to write to me and it brought tears to my eyes that meeting me meant so much to him - he had no idea how lucky I was to meet him.   It cheers me up every time I think of him.

The whole school has a wonderful atmosphere and the children are happy and enthusiastic, and I think it is because the school really lives up to the words of the banner you can see in the photograph and supports the pupils but also the parents who love them. The wonderful school librarian is going to organise after school support classes for the parents - this is a community short on money but based on love, and books and reading play a large part. It gives me hope and it was an honour to go there for World Book Day, where they paid me properly. So I went back and did the launch of my latest book there as a thank you. I love being with these children and this school community.

So what on earth is  happening when children turn into hate-full adults? Everyone starts off gorgeous, made to give and receive love. The politicians who do such hateful things, the journalists who smear, the people spouting fear-filled hate online and in phone-ins, were once as innocent and open to love as the little babies and toddlers at the border of America and Mexico or as these children in the picture.  What went wrong and how can we put it right?

I'm sure it all comes down to love. I try to remind myself, when I feel panicked and overwhelmed by all the horrible things going on and my own inability to fix them, that maybe we can't all be politicians or  aid workers or teachers or a librarians or nurses or social workers or any number of other jobs, but what we can do  is do the jobs we love. As writers we can love writing  and hope that that love comes through and out the other side to our readers. Loving readers can take the form of making them laugh, giving them a wonderful world to escape to, as well as educating them or inspiring them. There are many different types of writers and many types of genres  and many different children each of whom may read a variety of books.

I don't know how to fix the world, and I can't spend all my days RT horrific news, although i do feel we do have to share it and make a noise. I am finding that it is so easy to despair, but that getting on with my job gives me peace, and I wish it for each of us today.

P.S. - for when we forget about how truly important our jobs are and why - and inspite of ourselves feel a bit depressed or self-doubting  when we don't win awards or sell millions - I thought this might make you smile and also inspire!

Video of the opening song at The Tomy Awards 2018


Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this post, Anne. I keep coming back to the wonderful Mr Rogers' quote: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”"

Leslie Wilson said...

Traumatised children take a lot of loving and it can be difficult because they will push love away and test it. How to help? Support single parents who are having a tough time, and parents of special needs kids. Don’t rush into easy condemnation. That’s one thing. Carry on writing because kids need authors who understand. Push for better care for kids in this country. Resist austerity, which is getting rid of good and vital services. And there are asylum seeking kids in bad conditions in this country. Protest about that. Resist hatred. Great blog!

Penny Dolan said...

Well said, Anne!

And "look for the helpers" are certainly words to remember.