My son sits tucked in the back of our walk-in closet, a book open on his lap, his three-year-old sister at his side, giggling at a silly sentence. My oldest reads until past ‘lights out’ because she lost track of time. Our one-year-old squats and turns the pages of her board book. My husband and I light the first fireplace fire of the season and read during the quiet hours of a weekend afternoon.
Amid all the stress and anxiety of the year 2020, I’ve had to work harder than usual (and I usually have to work pretty hard) at being present. When I focus in on the current moment, notice the ebbs and flows of our family life as we walk through the seemingly slow-passing minutes of a long day, I am better able to notice and appreciate the little, tiny, good things (which are many!) sprinkled in among all that feels scary or uncertain or hard.
One of those good things has been that, over the past several months, I have watched my children see themselves as readers. They are all at different stages, from the flipping through board books to the first forays into full-length middle grade novels, but, in the Savaryn family, reading is part of our everyday life. When I take the time to notice, I learn that my kids have found escape in books, comfort in books, humor in books, and that we have bonded together as a family over books.
It’s a weird year to have a book come out, and I’ve felt that very acutely as a debut. But seeing what books have meant to the young people I live with, and to me as a human and a writer, has brought solace to my heart in my moments of uncertainty and fear.
No matter what is going on in the outside world, or inside our hearts, we still need stories. I write middle grade, and I always marvel at how middle grade novels can tackle really hard, heart-wrenching, and sometimes scary things. But that at the end of the day, no matter what the characters face inside a middle grade book’s pages, the story is punctuated by a firm sense of hope.
Hope that things will get better, that we can emerge from a battle triumphant, that good can win the day. And when I sit in that moment, the moment of knowing the power that books hold, I realize I need those same messages just as much as the readers I write for do. We all, especially during this time, need that pulse of hope.
It makes me thankful for the opportunity to put stories out into the world. It makes me less anxious about whether or not my book will find its readers. And it makes me so, so glad for the chance to see, firsthand, my children getting scooped up in the wonder of books. To notice, in the moment, how making time for reading is becoming as natural to them as making time for a snack or for playing outside.
May we all lean into the power of stories now, and from them, may we draw comfort, hope, and strength.
Lorelei Savaryn (loreleisavaryn.com) is an author of creepy, magical stories for children. She holds a BA in creative writing and is a former elementary teacher and instructional coach. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time amidst the beautiful chaos of life with her husband and four children outside of Chicago. You can follow her on Twitter @LoreleiSavaryn.
You can buy her debut book here https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/624500/the-circus-of-stolen-dreams-by-lorelei-savaryn/