This summer, kids can access great books, go on adventures to faraway places and even win prizes – all at their local library.
Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux and the recently released Raymie Nightingale, appreciates the importance of reading – especially during the summer.
As she visits schools throughout the country, answering questions about her new character Raymie and her journey to conquer remarkable things, she’s also letting kids know that all summer long their local libraries offer great opportunities for summer fun as the 2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) National Summer Reading Champion.
We had the opportunity to talk to Kate about what inspired her to become a children’s author, the importance of books and imagination and which books she loved to read during summer break as a kid.
Your books are very imaginative. Why is it important for kids to explore their imagination through books?
Because you find that anything is possible – and the feeling of possibility gets into your heart. That’s what books did for me.
As a kid, I was sick all the time and spent so much time alone. It was super beneficial to read because I was convinced that the things I didn’t think were possible actually were! That’s incredibly important for kids in need, but also for all of us.
Your stories are very relatable for children. Why is it important for kids to see parts their lives in the books they read?
I feel this as an adult reader too…
Books give me an understanding not only of the world and other people’s hearts, but my own heart. When you see yourself in a story, it helps you understand yourself.
During my school visits, so many kids tell me stories of how they connect with my characters – Despereaux and Edward Tulane and Raymie. It’s so humbling to see that connection.
And when you see other people, it introduces you to a whole new world. I think of a story I read as a kid, which was actually just reissued, called All of a Kind Family. It’s about a Jewish family in turn-of-the-century New York. That couldn’t have been more foreign to me growing up in Central Florida but I loved every word of it.
Did you like to read during the summer as a kid?
Yes! I loved reading. I could spend all day reading. I’d go up into my tree house with books and sometimes didn’t come down until dusk.
If you gave me a book as a kid, I loved it. I read without discretion. But I did have my favorites I’d come back to again and again: Beverly Cleary’s books, Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.
It’s so crazy to stand in front of groups of kids and tell them this. There’s always a murmur of “oh, yeah, yeah! I read that!” That’s the staying power of books.
How can kids access books and learning activities over the summer?
That is the beautiful thing about CSLP summer reading programs at public libraries: it makes it easy for parents, caretakers and kids themselves to access all kinds of materials and activities for free. The 2016 summer reading theme is “On your mark, get set, READ!” and I think that’s an open invitation to readers of all ages to take advantage of everything their library offers.
Want more Kate DiCamillo? Listen to her talk about the fantastic summer fun you can find at your local library!