Today we will begin a new category dedicated to people who, in matters of creativity and education, deserve a monument. They are our creative heroes.
We will start with Marguerite Hart.
In 1970 Marguerite began working for a library in the small town of Troy, in Detroit. She had a passion for children’s literature and was convinced that fomenting reading in children was essential for the community.
Shortly after, Marguerite had an idea. Armed with a paper and pencil (no Macs or iPhones in the seventies), she began to look up addresses and write dozens of letters to all the famous people she could think of. Writers, politicians, actors, musicians…Marguerite didn’t set herself a limit and even wrote to President Nixon himself. She asked all of them to write a letter to the children of their town, convincing them that it’s fantastic to read, or recounting a memory from their own favourite books.
The idea worked out and the answers came back. Lady Nixon, the then-Governor Ronald Reagan, the astronaut Neil Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Dr. Seuss, the actors Vincent Price and Dick Martin… in a short time, Marguerite compiled nearly a hundred letters sent from several different countries (you can see them here). That may be easy in this era of Internet and Facebook, but complicated for someone who only counted on a phone book.
The people of Troy started visiting the library with their children to read through those letters. And Marguerite was there waiting for them, full of tales and fantastic stories so they would want to come back the next day.
The Troy Library continues to fill up with people every day. The collection of these letters is considered today as a unique document of that time, and it remains the source of inspiration for dozens of American libraries.
Families that I work with often ask me for ideas to make their kids read more. My answer is always the same: read more yourselves. If the adults at home read, if we visit libraries with them frequently and if we fill the house with books, their love for reading will inevitably arrive.
When the are reading our kids turn into pirates, astronauts, evil queens or sorcerer’s apprentices, they can sail the seven seas and discover incredible creatures… Can you think of anything better?