Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fairy Tales and Reluctant Readers

I'm pleased to host Beverly Stowe McClure once more to my blog. For those of you who haven't met her yet, here's a brief bio:

When Beverly was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology, and it was published in Young America Sings, she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with the printed word, she attended Midwestern University, read more books than she ever imagined, wrote tons of papers, and graduated with a teaching degree. Imagine that. As a teacher, she also read a lot. Reading Dr. Seuss and other great children’s books to her sons and to her students made her realize what she’d been missing: reading was fun. Now, she reads and she also writes. Her stories and articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. One article was reprinted in a Scott Foresman PreK-K Anthology. Her “Breakthrough” article appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer Magazine. She has five novels for tweens and teens published with four more under contract, along with a picture book. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, a YA historical fiction, is her latest release.

Here's Beverly's guest post. Read and enjoy!


I often wonder why I hated to read when I was a child. Books were not a priority in our home. I don’t recall anyone ever reading to me, though my memory might be faulty there. I’m not using the lack of reading material as an excuse. My younger sister always had her nose in a book that she’d checked out from the school library. I was content to listen to the radio. (Yes, this was before TV.) Every Saturday morning I turned on the radio for my favorite show: “Let’s Pretend.”

“Let’s Pretend” was fairy tales. Cinderella. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Sleeping Beauty, and all of the classics. Actors and actresses read the parts, transporting me to worlds of castles, and handsome princes, and beautiful princesses. Oh, yes, for a morning I became the heroine who woke from her dreams when the prince kissed her. Cinderella’s glass slipper fit my foot perfectly. The boy and girl always lived happily ever after. It was magic. I never read the books, but the visions of the characters were etched in my mind. I knew exactly what each one looked like.

Today, I believe the fairy tales I listened to in my early years were the beginning of my writing career. Though I don’t write fantasy, except for a ghost or two here and there, the stories from so long ago remind me that my protagonist must have a problem or a goal. She must want something desperately, or her problem must seem impossible to solve. The antagonist is the bad guy who tries to stop her from accomplishing her goal, the person who keeps putting obstacles in her path.

So do not despair, if you or someone you know is a reluctant reader. There is hope. Everyone can change. I’m proof. Now, when I’m not perched in front of my computer, typing the thoughts pouring from my head, my nose is in a book, reading another author’s beautiful prose. My only regret is that I didn’t discover the magic of books many years earlier.

Happy reading and writing to all.

Here's a synopsis of Beverly's newest historical fictional book for young adult readers, "Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines:

In May of 1863, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford decides to enlist in the Confederate Army. Two incidents trigger her decision. First, for months General Ulyssus S. Grant and his Federal troops have been shelling Vicksburg, Mississippi. To control Vicksburg is to control the Mississippi River. Now, Vicksburg is under siege, cut off from the rest of the world.

Second, when a mortar shell strikes Lizzie’s bedroom, her mama, Susan, orders Lizzie and her younger brother, Nathan (Nat), to the cave that Lizzie’s papa, Dr. Charles Stamford, recently has had dug for their safety. Lizzie hates living underground. Her older brothers, Joseph and Willie, are with their regiment in Virginia, fighting for their cause in the Civil War. Can she do any less? So she makes her plans. Twelve-year-old Nat, however, keeps upsetting them.

Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is the story of Lizzie Stamford and her family’s daily struggle to survive a changing way of life during the American Civil War. This is a story of fear, courage, and understanding that people, no matter where they live, have the same needs: love, peace and security.

Here's some links on where to find out more about Beverly and her books:


Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Morning, Katie. Thanks so much for hosting me today. All who leave a comment will be entered in a drawing for a copy of Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines.

Looking forward to your comments and/or questions.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I tried to post earlier, but this is one of those mornings following Murphy's Law. Here goes again. :)

Morning, Katie,
Thanks so much for hosting me today. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing for a copy of Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines.

Looking forward to your comments and/or questions. Have a good day.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

The book sounds fascinating, the cover is beautiful, and as always the interview made me want to go out and buy the book. Thank you, Katie and Beverly.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the guest post by Beverly. I think it would be fun if they brought back radio shows like they had before TV. Where families would sit together around the radio listening to the programs in the evenings. "Let's Pretend" sounds like the type of radio show I would have enjoyed listening to as a child. : )

Great synopsis of Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines. Thanks for sharing!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

LOL. I see I got posted twice. Told you that was my day. :)

Thanks for your nice comment, Joylene. I appreciate your kind words.

Hi, Susanne. Yes, in the "Old days" we had radio instead of TV. We could use our imatinations, rather than having a picture of every scene.
I appreciate your support.

Karen McGrath said...

Very nice interview, Katie. Beverly, your book sounds great. I've heard many a story about the family radio times. I agree with Susanne, it would be nice to have that available. Best wishes with your book!

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Hi Beverly,
I knew about your finding your love for reading from an earlier interview when you started this blog tour. I think it's wonderful that you grew to love it. I'm not sure that all schools foster the love of reading for all kids.

I think I used to listen to that show too! If it is the same show. The one I used to listen to had as it's theme song "The Teddy Bear's Picnic".:)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Thanks, Karen.

Maybe we should start a radio club. :)

Pat Dale said...

I enjoyed your description of how you came to where you are today. I learned to read early on, thanks to my teacher mom, and couldn't understand why my youngest daughter didn't love reading. I needn't have worried about her. She became an English teacher, specializing in middle grade reading, and has won the admiration of many students and parents for helping kids learn the 'fun' of reading. Your story sounds much like hers.
Kudos for what you've accomplished and best wishes for a long happy career as a writer.
Pat Dale

Donna McDine said...


Terrific guest post. I enjoyed reading how you spent your Saturday mornings. I agree, it was definitely the beginning of your writing career even though you didn't know it then.


Thanks for featuring Bev, I always enjoy getting to know her better.

Best wishes to you both for your continued successes,

Darcía Helle said...

That "Let's Pretend" radio show and others sounds like they were the precursors to audio books. That's sort of like reading! I'm sure it sparked the continuing love of a good story.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Hi lionmother,
I remember Teddy Bear's Picnic. Not sure whether it's the same show or not. Might have been. That's been a lot of years ago. :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Sorry I'm so late getting here, ladies. Been hanging out at the Writeoncon conference.

Hi Pat. I suppose it's an individual thing. My sister loved to read too. I didn't. Thanks for your kind words. I'm hooked on reading now.

Donna, so nice of you to stop by. Thanks.

You might be right, Darcia.Audio books are listening to someone read the story, same as listening to the radio. Who knew back then what the future would bring. TV was great. Now look at what we have. So much new stuff I don't even know about it all.

Karen Cioffi said...

I love historical fiction; this book sounds interesting.

And, reluctant readers can be motivated to read and succeed. My daughter was a reluctant reader - she's now a teacher with her administration degree, and seeking an AP position.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Hi Karen,

That's wonderful about your daughter. You never know where our paths will take that unexpected turn.

Have a nice weekend.

N A Sharpe said...

Bev, I think you would be an awesome fantasy writer - you have such a gift for storytelling and wonderful characters. In fantasy writing you do a lot of worldbuilding - not unlike the world you transported us to in Caves, Cannons and Crinolines you had to recreate a time very different from our own and keep it credible and realistic - not an easy concept and you did it brilliantly!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Aw, thanks, Nancy. I appreciate your kind words. I do enjoy reading fantasy. My ghost stories are as close as I've come to writing any. Who knows? Maybe someday... :)