Be A Changemaker
Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Author Laurie Ann Thompson is stopping by to share her books and her Library Love with us. Take it away Laurie!
A former software engineer, I now write for children and young adults to help my readers and myself make better sense of the world we live in, so we can all contribute making it a better place for everyone. I strive to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. I can’t imagine doing what I do—or being who I am—without libraries!
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
I love doing school and library visits! With my first book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters
I’ve been able to do some exciting things with libraries as part of their teen programs. One of these was with the Tukwila Library Council, a group of teens who work together to support and promote the Foster branch of the King County Library System. I was invited to talk to them by one of the librarians there, Rachel McDonald, and we had a great time discussing the group’s challenges and brainstorming ideas for future campaigns. It’s really gratifying to see teens so passionate and engaged in preserving and expanding their community library resources!
Idea board from Changemakers Assembly at Spiritridge Elementary
Another exciting link with this book and libraries is the free, downloadable Be a Changemaker Workshops Kit that was released last May. Kirsten Cappy at Curious City. Karen Jensen from Teen Librarian Toolbox, and I worked hard to put the kit together so any librarian (or other adult leader) would have everything they need to host changemaker sessions with their own teen patrons.
I’ve done several school visits for my picture books, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
and My Dog Is the Best.
Since these books are so different (one of inspiring nonfiction, the other humorous fiction), I like to have the kids think about those differences, as well as look for similarities. I also talk to them about the origins of both of these stories and my deeply personal connections to each of them. I conclude by telling them to look for their own emotional connections to everything they write. My favorite part of these visits, however, is simply storytime. I love reading these books out loud to an audience, and their reactions to the stories are priceless!
I also enjoy doing Skype visits. Here’s a photo of me Skyping with a class in Wisconsin.
Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?
I find it both heartbreaking and frightening. Libraries have always been such a huge part of my life as both a reader and as a writer. Though the role of libraries is changing somewhat due to the digital age we now live in, it is more important than ever to have these vital centers of accessible information in our communities.
Library Love When You Were a Cub
The library has always been one of my favorite places to be. The nearest library to our house was eight miles away in the next town over, but my mom took me regularly. She says she remembers me walking up to the checkout counter one time with a stack of books as tall as I was. The librarian told me I’d never be able to read all of those books in a month. I told her, “Oh, yes I will, and I’d take home even more if I could carry them!”
Laurie reading at age two
We also belonged to a books-by-mail library service, and I still remember vividly my excitement when I’d open up the mailbox and see the bright red canvas envelope inside! I also have fond memories of our school library and our librarian, Mrs. Harvey.
Mrs. Harvey BHS librarian
I still remember the day our class was taught how to use the Dewey decimal system, the card catalog, and the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. I’d always loved just wandering the stacks and looking for interesting things to read, but my mind was blown at the wealth of information available and the newfound ability to look up practically anything I wanted. I loved doing research papers—a natural nonfiction writer, I guess!
More Library Love
When I decided I wanted to write picture books, I checked out hundreds and hundreds of them from my local library, so I could analyze them and figure out how they worked. I still do that now, although now it’s as much for market research—seeing what’s already been done—as education. Right now I’m working on a book about Santa, for example, so I recently checked out a bunch of Santa stories both to spark potential ideas and to make sure mine is original and fresh.
I also use the library a lot when I’m researching my books (although thank goodness it’s no longer limited to the card catalog and the Reader’s Guide!). For Be a Changemaker, I referenced many books on business, leadership, and social entrepreneurship, as well as using the databases to find newspaper and magazine articles about young changemakers. For Emmanuel’s Dream, I checked out all of the books about Ghana and read all of the newspaper and magazine articles I could find about Emmanuel.
Hooray for ALA!
Last year I had the opportunity to attend ALA’s YALSA YA Lit Symposium in Austin, Texas. I got to participate in the Book Blitz and was on a panel called “Keeping it Really Weird” moderated by Kelly Milner Halls and including fellow authors Chris Barton, Jonathan Auxier, Lisa Yee, Andrew Smith, and Bruce Coville. We talked about how not all YA readers march to the same drummer, and we celebrated the diversity of all the wonderfully weird kids (and YA authors!) and the books that keep them (and us!) reading. It was a fun session, complete with singing and yo-yo tricks! Here’s a picture of me getting ready for the Book Blitz.
Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
I’d be remiss if I didn’t roar about my local library, King County Library System! They are one of the busiest in the country, serving a wide geographic area as well as an extremely diverse population. They have made great strides in making things easy and accessible for their patrons, and I’m always impressed with their collection. They are fantastic!
Greenlake Librarian Kate Eads with Emanuel’s Dream
Let’s Link Up
Thank you, Laurie, for your terrific interview!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.