professornana (professornana) wrote,

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where do ideas come from?

I understand the almost groaning reaction you can get from an author when a kid asks, "where do your ideas come from?" Some authors give a flippant reply (I get them at the idea store) and some try to explain patiently that ideas are floaing all around us. Could it be kids ask that question because they have never snagged an idea out of the ether or heard something that struck a resonant chord? I know that ideas can arrive seemingly from out of nowhere. So, a few weeks ago in church, this quote just sort of sucked my breath away:

Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words. Saint Anthony of Padua

It is not, I think, the same as the old adage, "practice what you preach." It goes way beyond that to say we need to preach with actions and not first or just with words. And of course they resonated for me. Over the past twenty some odd years that I have been teaching literature for children, tweens, and teens, I have had too many students in undergrad and grad classes who were not active readers. Who moaned and complained about having to read 25 or 50 or 100 books over a semester (100 children's books, mostly picture books, is not too much to ask of someone who wants to work in a library or a classroom IMHO). Herein lies the lesson from that Sunday. If we do not preach with our actions about the joy and reward and pleasure and exhilaration of reading then all the words we can muster will not mean much.

Some of my best friends are book people. They belong to the Nerdy Book Club ( and spend the last Sunday evening of the month on Twitter for Titletalk (#titletalk from 7-8 CST) discussing books with Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. They belong to ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (, and ALSC and YALSA and SIGNAL and CLA. They eschew adult books so that they can read more of the books their students read. They are part of #bookaday challenges over holidays and summer vacations or part of the Centurions group on Facebook (!/groups/243348159758/) pledging to read 112 books by the end of the year.

So, how do we preach without words? Pick up a book to see. And maybe an idea will float on by. Grab hold if it does.

COMING THIS WEEK: The 3 Cs and perhaps 3 Ss, who knows.
Tags: books, modeling, preaching, reading

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