Guest Blogger: Joe Hayes
TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome nationally recognized storyteller and author Joe Hayes as our featured guest blogger.
Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!
by Joe Hayes
The most important thing I tell children when I visit schools is this: writing is sharing. I explain to them that an author isn’t someone special. An author is just someone who wants to share something, and decides to write about it. “If you become interested in something,” I tell students, “you should write about it.”
I like old, traditional stories—especially those from the American Southwest. When I run across a tale that excites my imagination, I start re-imagining it and developing a version that I think will entertain children and suit my style of storytelling.
For years, I just told stories. Before long, people began to ask me why I didn’t write them down. They commented, “You could share your stories with more people if they were in print.”
They were right. When I started publishing my stories, I soon realized that my audience was much larger. From the letters, and later emails, that arrived, it was clear that I was reaching people in places I’d never even visited.
I like to tell children about an email I received from a librarian in Buenos Aires, Argentina. First, I tell them to find a globe and look way down below the United States and Mexico and the skinny thread of Central America—clear down to the tip of South America. “That’s where Argentina is,” I point out. “It’s really far.”
The librarian wrote to me to tell me that there was a child in her school—a homeless boy—who she could never interest in reading. One day she shared with him the story of ¡El Cucuy! from my book of that title (Cinco Puntos Press, 2003). The boy’s response? “¡Ah! Quiero aprender a leer esa historia!” He wanted to learn to read that story.
I tell children that I share this story because it will help them understand the beautiful things that can happen when you start to write about what interests you—that they can make a difference in someone else’s life, and there’s nothing more important than that.
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