Jacey Davidson, LitWorld Winter Intern
J.K. Rowling said in Harry Potter, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I also have always believed that stories have an immense power and transformative quality, especially when introduced at a young age. Learning to read and write changed my life, allowing my dreams to soar in the unrestrained world of literature. Before I came to LitWorld, I had never seen stories used in such a meaningful and positive way by an organization on a global scale.
During my month-long internship with LitWorld, I spent my time going through their collection of children's books, and placing each of them in one of LitWorld's 7 Strengths: Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope. With a rare few exceptions the books fit solidly in a category, with strong core values at the heart of every story. Far removed from the world of picture books, many adults underestimate the power that even very simple stories can have on children. They can be deceptively simple, but pack so much more meaning below the surface. I had underestimated the impact of the children's books on young readers.
When I attended one of the LitClub meetings with children in New York I was shown how influential children’s books can be. The class was based around Curiosity, and the read aloud was Shel Silverstein’s poem Reflection, about someone who looks at their reflection in water. I knew who the “upside down man” in the poem was, but listening to the kids discuss it reminded me of how I used to feel, reading tricky Shel Silverstein poems and being proud of myself for figuring out the play on words or the joke. Listening to the kids talk gave me a renewed sense of wonder for the poem, which I had previously thought of as simple. It was also heartening to see how interested the kids were in discussing the poem, and the ideas it gave them as they talked.
In addition to underestimating the tools of the trade--children's books--we underestimate the kids themselves, their fervor for learning and empowering their imaginations. Interning at LitWorld has certainly rekindled both of those fires in my heart, and I hope to return to help others enter into the magical world of reading.