Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marvellous Margriet!

Our symposium in Phoenix turned out to be an amazing celebration of books and literacy. Everyone in the room was clearly a keen champion of kids and reading. I can't imagine meeting a more dedicated group of people anywhere! 

For the next few posts, I'm going to feature a single author from the symposium and tell you a little bit about her books. Today, I'll start with Margriet Ruurs, who may be the biggest champion of literacy that I've ever met. Margriet organized the day and lined up the 5 authors and 1 teacher of the year to speak. She coordinated us all, and put our slideshows on her computer, then acted as MC for the day-long workshop. She was an incredible trouble-shooter (both with the technology and in any other little glitches that popped up) and a tirelessly optimistic host. I told her she was a force of nature. And she was!

Margriet has written some 25 books for children, many of them about nature and fictional animals, and she travels the world, speaking at reading conferences, schools and libraries. Wherever she goes, she carries her message of the importance of reading. Tomorrow, she is on her way to China and Burma for 5 weeks to speak at international schools. In addition to writing and speaking, she has created a global book exchange program, as well as coordinating book donations for needy schools around the globe. 

One of my favourite books by Margriet is called, "My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World." In essence, it's a photo essay that shows mobile libraries in remote parts of the world. These libraries move from place to place in remarkable ways: by bus, boat, elephant, donkey and more! These unusual libraries are often the only way that people in remote areas such as in Thailand, Mongolia or Azerbaijan can access books. I really wish I had written that book! I also really wish I'd seen those libraries. (Do you detect a note of professional jealousy? :-)

I've got a lot to learn from Margriet: fearless traveller, bold optimist, and the best darn promoter of literacy that she is.

If you'd like to find about more about Margriet and her books, please check her website here.

Check back soon to hear about the other authors at our symposium. Cheers!

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