Monday, November 19, 2007

Wisonsin & Pods of Potential

Last week I had a thought while flying back from a fantastic library visit in Middleton, Wisonsin and was listening to the unsteady nose whistle of the man sleeping next to me in the cranial embrace of a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones: Man, there are a lot of kids out there.

Okay, granted, that's not particularly insightful or profound. And I wasn't even referring to Wisonsin, necessarily—although they have their share of backpack sloggers!

There's just something about flying over this vast country that gets you thinking about how many people are wandering around down there. And to meet all these great, enthusiastic kids who have read your books and want you to sign them is really sort of exciting and heady and humbling. And it got me thinking about the vast sea of young people out there; each kid is like some kind of bouncing pod of potential. Some will blossom and really do amazing things, while others—too many I'd say—never quite realize their potential. They get distracted, waylaid, sidetracked and lost for a million different reasons.

Let's faced it, our kids are not struggling for survival anymore, trudging across the snowy plains in hope that Dad or Uncle Walt bags dinner for everybody with a spear. Communities aren't being swept away by hunger, disease or drought. Heck, we've got the whole survival thing pretty well figured out. So are we taking advantage of that? How many kids today reach their potential? How many get half way there? How much could this country achieve, create, cure, discover, build, invent, and figure out if we all could just get close to achieving our potential?

If you're waiting for the answer, I don't have it. But I've got a feeling that the kids with parents who enourage them to read, sign them up for summer reading programs and sacrifice an afternoon to bring them to events where they can watch a real, live author-illustrator talk about the creative process and the joy of writing and they've got a much better chance at tapping that potential.

Kudos to those moms and dads who tip the scale in their kids favor!

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