Most of the time, we devote this blog to Nerdy Chicks. But just for today, I wanted to focus not only on girls, but on kids (or Chicklets, as we like to call them!) in general.
Raising a Nerdy Chicklet is a challenge in many ways. We have to foster his or her intellectual curiosity and be ready with facts, figures, and other resources to help her learn. As parents or educators, we strive to be ready with the answers. But having the answers isn’t the most important part of supporting a Nerdy Chicklet — allowing her to ask questions is the vital thing. Even when we don’t have the answers, the questioning process teaches the Nerdy Chicklet to think. Remember, giving facts is often a linear thinking process. We take the facts down a logical path with very few side stops in order to keep the explanations simple. Asking questions, however, lets a child explore in a non-linear way. Some of the smartest people in the history of the world were non-linear thinkers. If you want to help the Nerdy Chicklets in your life reach their full intellectual potential, let them ask questions — and be honest if you don’t know the answers. When that happens, it’s just an opportunity for the Nerdy Chicklet to learn independently and teach you, or for you two to learn together. Instant bonding!
One of the truly awesome things I get to do as a children’s book author is to go around the country to talk to kids about writing and books. Recently, this has taken me to schools in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival in Tennessee. I always get lots of questions from the kids and I’m often so impressed by the kinds of things they are curious about. Here are some of the questions I’ve gotten.
“How can you tell the difference between a good idea and a bad idea?”
I get this question a lot. I wish I knew the answer!
“Do chickens make every story better?”
Not every story, but certainly most.
“Does it ever feel better to write about something that hurts you?”
A lovely boy asked me that question privately after one of my school workshops. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him: yes, it does eventually feel better. Writing is wonderful therapy, especially because in fiction, we have power. In life, we get what we get and it is often unfair. In fiction, we get to give our characters the endings they deserve — which means the good characters get happy endings, and the ones we don’t like get humiliation and defeat.
“Did you really set a mouse on fire?”
I get that question everywhere, but it was especially funny at the Rumson Country Day School, where one of my presentations was invaded by an actual MOUSE!
(Oh, and, yes, I really did.)
“How do you relate to kids when you’re so old?”
This was a question to the panel at the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival, where I shared the stage with the wonderful Julie Danielson, Bob Shea, Jarrett Krosoczka, Marc Tyler Nobleman, and Debbie Diesen. Needless to say, the little girl who asked it stole all of our thunder.
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