KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four Kansas City-area children’s book authors have their own stories about how they got into reading. For Crystal Everett, it started young.
“I got into reading from a very early age,” Everett said. “I was the kid who would try to read in the dark and just have books on books on books.”
Everett’s mother was a teacher. She said that focus on education inspired her passion for English class as a student.
Now that she works in education herself, Everett sees the importance of children’s literacy.
“In my professional life, in working with high school students, I can see a difference sometimes when it comes to students really being able to grasp general concepts," she said. "And I do think there’s a big difference for kids who have that opportunity to be surrounded by books.”
Similarly to Everett, Cynthia Fails learned her love of reading from her mother.
“My love for reading came from bedtime stories that were read to me by my mother,” Fails said. “And just zoning out right before bed, feeling that nurturing spirit that she was pouring into me by reading these bedtime stories. When I got the chance to learn how to read, I started reading back to her, and that love of reading kind of spurred from there.”
Fails has written eight children’s books since leaving education and starting LaunchCrate Publishing. She said she loves writing for kids because they are so open to growing, learning and sharing.
“If I have the ability to pour an idea into their mind that makes something a possibility that wasn’t necessarily possible before, and then they can then pour that into somebody else, you can start to create these infinite ripples,” Fails said.
Clarence Lomax hopes his book makes that kind of impact.
“I hope it opens up their minds to different career paths that are not your norm. They can be anything they want to be, no matter what life throws at them," he said.
Lomax strives to inspire kids to pursue their passions, helping them see all the possibilities of what they could do in the future.
Making decisions that lead to a brighter future, that’s what Christle Reed thinks books can help kids do.
“Reading can be a part of a child’s healing process,” Reed said. “Reading can be a part of a child choosing this way or that way. It gives them an opportunity to pause, it gives them an opportunity to connect with the outside world, and it gives them an opportunity to just be with themselves. And I think that’s a lot of what our kids need nowadays.”
Reed’s father died when she was 11 years old. Her book encompasses what she wishes she had read at that time.
“I always thought about the 11-year-old girl that was inside of me," she said. "And I don’t want to see another child have to go through so many tough decisions, so many bad decisions, so many states of anxiety because they didn’t have the proper tools to help them heal when it actually happened.”
All four of these KC authors have something in common: they believe in the “If You Give a Child a Book ...” campaign.
When asked why this initiative is important, this is what they had to say:
“For those of us who are able to support, that is a very simple way to place a book in a child’s hands,” Everett said.
“I think we are helping to level the playing field, and we’re creating areas of access where they weren’t there before. And initiatives like this can help everybody to have equal access to all of the books that exist out there, which is super important,” Fails said.
“You see a lot of kids on their phones, I don’t see a lot of kids reading nowadays. So I think it’s very important to get them back in that mindset that reading is fundamental, reading is important,” Lomax said.
“As a city, and as adults in this city, we have to do our part to make sure our children are prepared for the future, and that starts with getting them to love to read,” Reed said.
If you would like to donate money to the “If You Give a Child a Book ...” campaign, click here.
The artists' books can be found at the links below:
- "Yes, You Can Be Anything You Want to Be" by Clarence Lomax
- "Mari & Mommy: Move It" by Crystal Everett
- "Hugs from the Sky" by Christle Reed
- All works by Cynthia Fails