Sometimes you write and write and write, and wonder, is anyone really going to want to read this? Does what I'm doing even matter?
And then you get something like this in the mail . . .
It was a packet of letters from the 5th graders Hardy Elementary School in South Lyon, MI. They wrote about what my books meant to them, and what they'd like me to write about next . . .
Their teacher, Susan Maurus, sent along these words . . .
Here are her students . . .
Katie Kehrer, who was Ms. Maurus's student teacher wrote . . .
"We used your books so many times to teach lessons to put bullying to a stop or show students how their actions rub off on others."
I've heard that WARP SPEED, which is about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up every day, is opening up lots of discussions about bullying. I've gotten letters from kids who are being bullied, from teachers who have students come forward about abuse at home, and parents saying that the book has helped their child.
My friend, author Phil Bildner came up with the idea to bring children's/YA authors and illustrators together as one voice to help campaign against bullying via the It Gets Better Project.
(Above: That's Phil, on the right, and his partner Kevin Lewis and I when we invaded Brooklyn Flea.)
Out of Phil's idea, Authors and Illustrators Unite was created. 35 of us contributed short messages of inspiration and hope. Here's a list . . .
Kathi Appelt, Jay Asher, Phil Bildner, Coe Booth, Bruce Coville, Matt de la Pena, John Holyfield, Ellen Hopkins, James Howe, Gordon Korman, Jarrett Krosoczka, Nancy Krulik, Loren Long, Betsy and Ted Lewin, Kevin Lewis, Emily Lockhart, Peepy, LeUyen Pham, Olugbemisola Rhuday, Dan Santat, Cynthia Letiech Smith, Sonya Sones, Jordan Sonnenblick, The Texas Sweethearts, Don Tate, Tanya Lee Stone, and me.
For my clip, I started writing down notes, but I knew I only had about seven seconds. Yet there was so much I wanted to say . . .
In the end, I pared it down and shot my segment . . .
My segment, along with the others, were edited together . . .
I asked Phil about the making of It Gets Better - Authors and Illustrators Unite. Here's what he had to say . . .
LISA: What was your inspiration was for creating the video?
LISA: Was it hard to get the authors and illustrators onboard?
For a more in-depth look at the video, here's School Library Journal's interview with Phil.
Also, I'm proud to one of 70 authors who have contributed true stories about bullying to an anthology called DEAR BULLY: Young Adult Authors Against Bullying. Edited by Megan Kelly Hall and Carrie Jone, some of the authors involved is this project, Mo Willems, Nancy Werlin, Megan McCafferty, and Jon Scieszka. The book will be out in August, and I'll talk more about it then.
If you, or someone you know, are being bullied or abused, talk to someone -- a friend, a teacher, a librarian, someone.
It gets better.