Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Madeleine L'Engle, Empire State Hall of Fame, & Fifth Graders

What's on my mind?

My grandmother is to be inducted into the Empire State Hall of Fame next week on April 1st and I have been invited to accept the award on her behalf. She will be honored with the likes of Dorothy Parker, Ralph Ellison, Herman Melville and others. (We will also be celebrating the 50th year of A Wrinkle In Time on February 12th of 2012.) I need to write a short speech illuminating her already well-known contributions to the Empire State and to literature.

I only have 2-3 minutes and there's so much to say! 

But I'm also thinking about tomorrow: I will be representing Writopia and leading workshops all morning with 5th graders in Scarsdale, NY at the Young Writer's Workshop. All participants will create a short short story in 45 minutes. Impossible? Nay! Not with Writopia!

There's something about working with 10 year olds that is so inspiring and it also happens to be the age group that is first attuned to A Wrinkle in Time and GETS it.

Ten year olds have a freedom with their intellect and imagination that gets choked as we get older, and develop the inner critic. (At Writopia, we strive to help develop the inner editor!)  A Wrinkle in Time has inspired fifth graders to both read and to write, to enter the world of the impossible. Their imaginations break down those barriers! It's the same with Middle Grade Fiction. You can write about the impossible and have it be believable. Toads can be best friends, wolves can talk, Martians and Venutians can interface. (Wait, isn't that TRUE?) My grandmother had a firm grasp in Story as Truth, something that fifth graders inherently know.

And what about Meg? The groundbreaking (in 1962) FEMALE protagonist and math nerd who is our unlikely heroine. How many generations of fifth graders has Meg inspired to be whatever they want to be? 

Okay, this is short, but there will be more ruminations all week long as I PREPARE for Friday night, which also happens to be my 12th wedding anniversary! (Yes, I am leaving the kids with my mom, and bringing HIM!) The next day, I will put my own author hat on for the Festival and represent Edges to the best of my ability, but on Friday night, I am all about being the gushing granddaughter! (And doting wife . . .)

Now I go and teach . . . fifth graders!

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  1. Very very cool. Will you consider reprinting your speech? Love your rock star life, Lena. And happy anniversary!

  2. Thank you Christa! I am pretty excited . . . and nervous! xoxo

  3. What an honor to have the opportunity to celebrate your grandmother, Lena! You'll, no doubt, snatch the words from the unseen, unsaid places as the tension of time builds.

    My oldest son turns 10 in August. We're a big reading family. What's the age range for Edges?

    Looking forward to learning more about you and your work!

  4. I know what you mean about working with that age group. My 12 yr. old daughter has been writing more imaginative stories than me for 2 years. I hope she never loses that sense of 'anything is possible.'

    Happy Anniversary and good luck on your speech!

  5. Keith and Cari - thanks so much for stopping by! I am constantly amazed - what I also love is watching a "reluctant" writer fall in-love with writing!

    Keith - Edges is more for a teen and adult audience, although it depends on the kid! A 10 year old would read it very differently than a 15 year old would. SLJ recommends for 9th grade and up - FSG has marketed for 7th grade and up.

  6. What a special day for many reasons, Lena. Yes, please share your speech if you will. Blessings on you and your husband!

  7. Thank you Amanda! Everything is still marinating! I just have to accept that I'm not going to be able to say everything I want to!

  8. Being in the list of Hall of fame is really a great honor and that is the indication of hard struggle by the way That book looking very interesting because of title and cover but if anyone want online writing consultations from professional writers and editors or want to write his book he can visit this site for precious information.


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