Books as explosive material

In 1963, Madeleine L’Engle received the Newbery Award for her book A Wrinkle in Time.  I vividly remember reading that book, in 5th grade…that would have been about 8 years later…and being completely swept into that strange, terrifying, out-of-bounds world of Mrs. Whatsit and Co., Charles Wallace Murray, and of course, tesseracts.  

In 1980, Madeleine L’Engle came and spoke in a course I was taking in college —  

Madeleine L'Engle

Children’s Writing.  I remember her talking about the couple of dozen rejections her book received before someone finally agreed to publish it.  She was trying to convince us not to give a hoot about a rejection or two…or ten…or twenty.

Today, I thought I’d give you an excerpt from her Newbery Award Acceptance Speech from 1963:  

Bertha Mahony Miller in her article, “Frederic G. Melcher – A Twentieth Century John Newbery,” says that “The bookstore’s stock trade is …explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly…” 

We [in the children’s literature world] have the vocation of keeping alive Mr. Melcher’s excitement in leading young people into an expanding imagination. Because of the very nature of the world as it is today our children receive in school a heavy load of scientific and analytic subjects, so it is in their reading for fun, for pleasure, that they must be guided into creativity. There are forces working in the world as never before in the history of mankind for standardization, for the regimentation of us all, or what I like to call making muffins of us, muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin. This is the limited universe, the drying, dissipating universe, that we can help our children avoid by providing them with “explosive material capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly.” 

You can read the speech in its entirety by clicking on the link: 

http://www.madeleinelengle.com/reference/newberyspeech.htm 

Meanwhile, keep giving your kids some Imagination Fuel in the form of books, okay?!