I reserved the right to add to the BFYA for Revolutionary purposes, because some amazing books did not get on the ALA radar.
Because we are piloting the Revolution this year, some kids did not get a chance to choose and read a book.
I will not go into the politics behind this at the moment; suffice to say that I said that for this year kids could use a book they read for a class.
Part of the Revolution is writing to the author, because when someone writes a book that moves you or stays with you it is, I think, a kind and wondrous thing to send those thoughts back to the writer. I tell the kids that writers are busy writing, and they may not get a response, and the most important thing is honoring the story and the wordsmith and the experience.
I do not grade these letters.
I do just check them off as complete.
I do ask the kids to let me see the letters, because I delight in their voices. A kid always has the right to say, "No, it's personal" and choose not to share their letter or their response.
But it's funny--they like to share.
Holy tomato, when a kid gets a response, and shares it, we celebrate. I stop whatever we are doing, and we make a lot of noise, and kids crowd around the lucky recipient's monitor.
Sometimes we dance.
At least, I do.
So here are some excerpts from letters the kids have written.
One student wrote to Michael Grant, author of BZRK.
"I selected BZRK for the project and loved it. It was the first book I had really been interested in ever since I got into high school. I've had not time to read because of all the homework so I was thrilled when I heard we go to pick a book of our choice for the assignment. BZRK was an amazingly great masterpiece."
Another student wrote to Ilsa Bick, author of Ashes.
"A few years ago I read every awesome book that I could find and then after that I lost my interest in books. But when I heard your book had zombies and EMPs, I was intrigued. But when I finally read it I was just so in love with the book that I am looking for more of your amazing books. You sparked my interest in reading again. Thank you."
And I wish I could show you all the look on my student's face when he saw a note from Ilsa Bick in his inbox. Child shines shines shines.
One of my boys read Tom Sawyer and wrote to Mark Twain.
"The only reason I ever picked up your book is because my Grandpa told me that every boy should read your book. So I decided to read it and I'm very glad I did. You demonstrated the adventures of growing up as a boy and how tough and how much pressure there is growing up."
The student did not realize that Mark Twain was dead. I told him that I will find his descendants and get it to them. Because if you knew that one of your relatives made a difference to someone, wouldn't you want to hear about it?
And the world is a strange place. Maybe Mr. Twain will write back. You never know.
The kids also made posters for the book they read, and these are very cool. I will post some when I get their permission.
We start on book trailers this week.
Before I go, though, I want to thank every author who has ever taken the time to read something from a kid and taken even more time to write back.
You have rocked worlds.