I am a children’s author. No matter what voice I am using, I am challenged to get into the role so I can see, smell, taste, feel and hear like that character. Yes, even if I’m writing about a chick with a seeing problem, which is one of many stories I’m working on this summer. Looking at things from the perspective of an airplane, a stink bug, or a 2 year old is par for the course for children’s writers.
Perspective took a serious turn during a recent author visit to a preschool center where we talked about kindness and empathy. One of the center’s young teachers was diagnosed with cancer last fall and has lost her hair. She still comes in once a week with her stocking cap and mask on. I was in the middle of reading my newest book, Claire’s Hair, to 90 young book lovers, when Ms K. came in the door. Children called out her name and several flew to her for hugs. The children are aware of her condition and connected immediately with my book. Claire’s Hair is a tale of young Claire and her wild woolly mane, which she loves. She and her best friend, Albert, do all kinds of crazy fun things with her hair including jumping rope and tying up the neighborhood robbers. When her BFF gets sick and loses his hair, the laughter and fun go missing. Claire schemes a BIG hairy idea to bring the joy back. Her perspective changed when she learned her friend is sad and not feeling well.
When children (and adults!) encounter a real life situation, eyes are opened a little wider and perspectives can change. In the case of Ms. K., empathy and kindness is growing among the children on behalf of their teacher. Changing perspective can be a beautiful thing. Stories are richer when perspective is authentic. Lives are enriched when others view things by “getting into someone else’s shoes”.
Blessings to Ms. K. for continued progress as well as to friends who have recently been diagnosed with cancer.