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Author Katherine Paterson Lobbies for Reading

Prolific author and passionate reading proponent Katharine Paterson wears her National Ambassador for Young People's Literature hat when she stops in at New Canaan Library on April 27 on her campaign to promote literacy. Paterson, author of 30 young people's books including two Newbery Medal Award winners "Bridge to Terabithia,"and "Jacob Have I loved," also received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.  She will give a talk entitled "Read for your life" and answer questions about her books posed by the library's Young Critics Book Group. Though she's recognized as one of the finest children's authors, the reason book professionals chose her as National Ambassador, on her website Paterson says her childhood ambition was to be an actress, not a writer. She says, "when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted to get married and have lots of children."

Her parents were missionaries and Paterson was born in China where they were posted. Her childhood, and subsequent writing, was influenced by tumultuous experiences she lived through and the feeling of always being an outsider. The 1937 invasion of China by the Japanese forced Paterson's family to flee and though they returned in 1940, they again had to leave and settled in North Carolina. Between 1937 and 1940, Paterson's family moved 13 times. It was after her 1962 marriage to a Presbyterian minister that Paterson began writing, when the church asked her to create curriculum materials for 5th and sixth graders. In between motherhood (four children) and a few family moves, she somehow shoehorned in writing fiction.

But even after 30 books, Paterson acknowledges on-going self-doubt before her a new one takes shape. "Eventually a character or characters will walk into my imagination and begin to take over my life. I'll spend the next couple of years getting to know them and telling their story. Then the joy of writing far outweighs the struggle, and I know beyond any doubt that I am the most fortunate person in the world to have been given such work to do."Writers and readers will want to hear Paterson talk about her work and the fascinating experiences that have informed it, when she visits New Canaan Library on April 27. Her talk begins at 6:30 p.m. and is free. For reservations and other information, visit the library's website.

Have your kids read "Bridge to Terabithia" or other Paterson works? Let us know by posting below.

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