Friends of the Fallbrook Library held its inaugural fundraising event Advancing Children's Literacy, Nov. 12 at the library.
Friends President Michael Starling said the board is planning a 10 year donation period to advance children's literacy. Love of books is a common characteristic of the library's supporters; many grew up checking books out of the libraries where they lived in their childhood. So, promoting children's literacy makes sense.
The event was attended by more than 100 people and raised more than $15,000. The funds will be dedicated for children's programs, including an ongoing distribution of free books to local kids from the library bookstore, the Bottom Shelf, beginning in January 2024.
The highlight of the event was a panel discussion with three best-selling Southern California authors, Thomas Perry, Susan Strait and T. Jefferson Parker, who answered questions and signed their books. The discussion was moderated by radio host Barbara Whitesides.
The conversation was lively and inspiring. Perry has published 31 books while Parker has 29 out so far. Straight has produced 11 books but also has a full time job as a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.
Each writer told about their early experiences with the written word. Parker said his mother read to him growing up, but the book that changed his life was assigned to him by a high school teacher, "Catch-22." "It made me want to write!" he said.
Straight said her parents did not read (her mother was from Switzerland and learned English by listening to Vin Scully broadcast Dodger games on the radio; her stepfather was from Canada). They did buy the Encyclopedia Britannica and Readers Digest condensed books – both of which she was reading at age 9. She also said that to write, listening is important.
Perry said that his parents were both teachers, so they had lots of books at home. He added that the first book he was given (in the third or fourth grade) was "Quest for the Snow Leopard." He called it an "introductory drug."
The authors' writing styles also vary. Parker said he is a creature of habit, following the same routine every day, averaging five pages a day in his detached home office. Straight, on the other hand, writes in her car parked somewhere away from all the distractions at home. Perry writes by imagining he is talking to a person and is in that story.
When asked for advice to writers, Parker said "the greatest inspiration is reading good writing...read up, not down (challenging books, the classics), and read, read, read."
Straight said, "Everyone has one thing in their life they know about that no one else can write about;" they just have to figure out what it is.
Perry's advice is to "write one good page a day" which equals 365 pages in a year which makes a book. He said you also need a good reader who will tell you, "this is bad."
The celebration included a lineup of hors d'oeuvres from Bakin' It Up, a hosted wine bar and a silent auction with 40 items to bid on, plus a live auction of the opportunity to appear as a character in upcoming novels by the authors.
The live auction raised $1,000 and had two winners. Penelope Parker will have a character named after her in Parker's next book while Helen McHargue won the rights to character names in the next books of both Perry and Straight.
For any questions regarding the Advancing Children's Literacy program, contact Nancy Kreile at [email protected].