A House of Makers and Readers

Today was my third amazing day, and final day, at the Mazza Museum Summer Conference for 2016. The conference continues through Friday, but my time there is done due to family commitments. As always, I leave buoyed by the spirit of the authors/illustrators, as well as the contagious enthusiasm of the librarians and teachers who attend, and the deep love and commitment of the Mazza staff and volunteers. As I said in an earlier post, this is the place to be if you love picture books.

Today, attendees heard from three keynote speakers–Steve Light, Lita Judge, and Elly MacKay. Only one had I met before. I was familiar with the work of two. All three made me feel so privileged to hear their personal stories and catch a glimpse of their creative processes. But the one thing that I took away from all of them was the knowledge that each of them were “overcomers.”

Two admitted to struggling with dyslexia. One was that odd ball kid who becomes the target of bullies.

But despite these challenges, none of the three gave up. All had people in their lives who believed in them and one even had the option to hide out in the library if the need arose. (Honestly, I still have days where I need to hide out among the stacks. How about you?)

They each spoke passionately about playing with words and their art materials, about trying new things, about keeping collections of what they love. Though their backgrounds were wildly different, each of them knew the value of time alone, time in nature, and of being close observers of their worlds.

And the thing I guess I love about all of them is that they are still kids at heart and they carry the children they were within.

Here’s some of the wisdom nuggets they shared:

“I live in my sketchbook.”–Steve Light

“You need to be an observer to be an artist or a writer.”–Lita Judge

“If I show up for it, it will show up for me.”–Lita Judge

“There are advantages to living where no one else wants to live.”–Elly MacKay

“I grew up in a house of makers and readers.”–Elly MacKay        

Here’s to all the makers and readers, the painters and dreamers, the kids hiding sketch books and pencils in their baseball mitts, and those of us who know the safety and delicious solitude of rooms full of books.

And… here’s looking forward to the Mazza Fall Conference, November 2016!

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