I started blogging a year ago today. It was my midwinter break and I was reading a book on writing children's books. At the end of the first chapter it gave me some "homework": to read a bunch of picture books and find one that I really liked, one that I didn't and explain why. I soon realized I couldn't verbalize the reasons why some picture books appealed to me and some just didn't. I also noticed that books that were being regarded as classics, I had never read. Granted I didn't grow up in the US, but still, for somebody that loved children's literature as much as I do, it was embarrassing to admit that there was so much I had never read or even heard of (I won't forget the look of utter disbelief in a friend's face when he asked me if I had read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and I said that I hadn't). And so this blog was born out of the desire to educate myself about what was out there in the picture book world, what worked and what didn't.
In the process, I have fallen in love with picture books...completely in love. I no longer like picture books. I love them. I need them. I get a rush out of my weekly trips to the library, excited to see how many books are waiting for me in my hold pile (I'm pretty proud of the fact that I request so many books a week, that my lovely Peekskill librarians don't even bother to put my books in the "hold's drawer," but keep them on a separate pile).
I have learned so much during this past year. This "thing" has changed me completely. Let me count the ways:
1. Going to my town's library multiple times a week made me feel like a much more active part of my community. I got to know my librarians and I feel a lot more connected to my town.
2. I'm a proud member of the Nerdy Book Club. The daily emails have become a part of my morning routine and the constant book recommendations have exposed me to new writers and new favorites.
3. I have connected with an amazing Twitter community. I'm constantly learning from them and I feel like I have friends all over the place. I've never met any of them face to face (not yet), but I think of them as dear friends.
4. I've become a better teacher. Reading so much has allowed me to share a lot more with my students, connecting them with books and opening new lines of dialogue.
5. I've met writers and illustrators, and even interviewed a couple of them. Now, for a book nerd like me, that has been as cool as going backstage to see your favorite rock band.
So there you go. I thought after a year I would stop writing this blog but now that seems completely impossible to me. This is such a big part of my life that I can't imagine not doing it anymore. I might not post everyday as I've done so far, but I'll be here most days. I have to. I want to.