Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Celebrated Children's Authors and Artists Share Their Dreams in New Campaign

Authors and illustrators write about and illustrate hot topics on website for teachers, parents, librarians and students.

LOS ANGELES—Published children's book authors and illustrators–including Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted, now a major motion picture (author interview)), author/poet Jane Yolen (dubbed the "Hans Christian Anderson of America" and author of hundreds of books including Owl Moon (author interview)) and author-illustrator Tomie dePaola (author/illustrator of Strega Nona and winner of both the Newbery Honor and the Caldecott Honor awards), have joined forces to share their dreams for a better world, according to the coordinators of Authors & Illustrators for Children (AIC).

AIC's latest project, This I Dream, was inspired by NPR's This I Believe. In the radio program, Americans from all walks of life share the personal philosophies and core values which guide their daily lives.

For AIC's This I Dream, famous children's authors and illustrators were asked, "What do you dream for the next generation?"

In response, each author wrote a short essay and, inspired by the essay, each illustrator responded with a drawing or painting. The topics they address range from education to the environment, peace, health care, and more.

"These award-winning authors and illustrators are worried about our country's future. They want to help change it," said Bruce Balan, co-founder of the Los Angeles–based group. "We launched this national campaign to inspire teachers, parents, librarians and others to talk about the future of our country and of the world with their students."

Anyone can download these dreams free of charge. (Posters of the full-color art are available for purchase). Students are encouraged to create their own dreams for the future. The essays and illustrations will be released over the next several months, building momentum towards the presidential election.

Small Ad, Huge Response

In 2004, Balan created a simple ad in support of John Kerry. He hoped it would be endorsed by a few famous children's book writers and illustrators. Together with author and poet April Halprin Wayland, he formed Authors & Illustrators for Children and sent out 20 emails.

"The response was overwhelming," said Balan. "Within 12 hours, people from all over the globe had visited the website and we were receiving dozens of emails from authors and illustrators who wanted to be included." In the end, over 400 nationally known authors and illustrators joined the campaign. It featured a striking print ad, with a child's face behind hundreds of author and illustrator names, headlined We Create Children's Books Because We Care About Children—That's Why We’re Voting For John Kerry. The ad was placed in publications across the country, including Teacher Magazine—read by over one million teachers.

"With This I Dream, we want to generate an even greater energy," said Wayland. "We are planting seeds to change the world."

The Web site's design features a pomegranate and its seeds. The tagline is: "Plant one seed in one mind, a person blossoms. A hundred ideas in a hundred million minds? The world blooms."

To read the This I Dream campaign essays and see the artwork, please visit www.AIforC.org

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