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Location: New Mexico, United States

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adult literacy signing

Sometimes I get to do wonderful things as an author, and yesterday was one of those days. I was asked to participate with other local authors in a fundraiser for an adult literacy program in a small New Mexico town. The event went on for about six hours, and each of the authors spoke for seven minutes, then we spent the rest of the time signing books and talking to readers. The event was sponsored by the library, so I signed my mysteries and romances.

I loved the idea of helping raise money for adult literacy, but I didn’t really feel the importance of the project until one of the last authors got up to speak. He was a former adult literacy pupil who learned to read at 51. He talked about his experiences reading his first book — Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He described the excitement of riding in the carriage through the dark Transalvanian woods, the fear of visiting Count Dracula’s eerie castle, and the thrill of plotting to kill the vampire. I hadn’t really considered what a miracle it is to get drawn into a book; the experience is something I take for granted. I thought back to my parents reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to me when I went to bed. And then I remembered the thrill of living Will James’ tale of Smoky the Cow Horse, and all of Walter Farley’s adventures in the Black Stallion series. (Can you tell I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up?) I’d forgotten the magic until I was listening to this new author talk (he has written the story of his life ). I have to admit, it brought tears to my eyes.

If I can figure out how to do it between working full time and writing, I’d like to tutor adults learning to read. :grin: What a gift to give someone! I hope you all lose yourselves in books tonight until way past bedtime, and then, as you’re turning off your lights, you send good thoughts to those in your lives who taught you to read. I know I will.

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