It feels as though I have always been wrapped in stories and books. My parents read to me, and I in turn read to younger brothers. Family economics meant we couldn’t own many books, but going to the library was as common as going to the market. I still have the books I received as gifts. They include two “Little Golden Books” that were savored in childhood, and have served as talisman ever since. The Bunny Book by Patsy and Richard Scarry (1955) and Rabbit and His Friends by Richard Scarry (1953).
Like all children I created stories as part of play. And, like some children, I was soon identified as one who “daydreams too much.” I began writing stories when they were given as assignments in elementary school. By seventh grade I was writing even when there was no assignment. My dream of making books became so vivid, I submitted my first “formal” picture book manuscript to a publisher when I was sixteen. Eleven more years of school, work, reading, writing and luck finally brought about Lizard’s Song, my first children’s book to be accepted.
Looking back, it seems especially appropriate that Lizard’s Song was my first book. Even though I had been writing for years, I always felt everyone else’s life held better ideas for stories than mine did. I thought there was nothing about me that was interesting enough to make a good story. But I finally learned what Lizard teaches Bear. My best stories come when I tell or sing about what makes my home. What I love. What I fear. Things that have happened to me, and things I hope will happen. Things I like about me. Things I dislike about me. Things I understand, and things that still confuse me. So even though I am not a lizard, squirrel, chicken or rabbit, when you read my books you’ll find little bits of what my heart calls home.
Picture books have been my professional focus now for 40 years. Reading them. Writing them. Sharing them with children. Teaching workshops and classes on writing them. Oh yes, and buying them. Lots of them. And now, blogging about them, and helping other writers.
You can find out more about my own 40 plus books and my work with children at <www.georgewbshannon.comcastbiz.net>.