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This Thursday and Friday, you have the chance to meet award-winning author Richard Peck in Springfield. This year’s Big Read is focused on his book “A Long Way From Chicago.” KSMU’s Missy Shelton spoke with Peck and files this report.
The Big Read is a community-wide effort to promote literacy by the Springfield-Greene County Library District. With the book “A Long Way From Chicago” being at the center of this year’s Big Read, the author Richard Peck will be in Springfield this week to talk about his book. Peck’s book is a collection of stories that unfold during the Great Depression. He says there are many things to learn from that time in history.
Peck says, “There are a lot of messages there. Perhaps the number one message that the Depression and World War II sent was that when young people have a stake, a responsibility, a role to play, they’re happier and better prepared to face the future. In World War II, every kid was expected to do his part. I think the 30’s have a lot to tell us beyond just the cautionary tales of what happens when a whole country lives beyond its means but what happens when you have to conserve and every member of the family must pull together. That’s a serious under message for my comic books.”
Peck began his career as a teacher. He says his students helped him see that his true calling was to be a writer, though he still considers himself to be a kind of teacher…one who presents important lessons by writing books, rather than giving lectures. He says he wants to teach young people about history.
Peck says, “History catches up with us all. History repeats. That’s why I’m a novelist because I’m writing for people who haven’t lived long enough to see history repeating in their own lives. So, what an opportunity that is.”
During his visit to Springfield, Peck will talk about the importance of parents reading to children. He says his own mother read to him when he was young.
Peck says, “I will be talking about that mother of mine who read to me before I could read for myself and made me anxious to get to first grade. In fact, I thought at the end of the first day in first grade, I’d be able to read. My mother did read to me. She wasn’t trying to make a writer out of me. She simply had no intention of sending an ignoramus to first grade. So, she filled me up with language. I was always that beat ahead of the kid who had not had that. I owe her everything. Most of who we are is determined in those first five years of life, before we ever see school. Schools don’t build foundations. They build upon foundations.”
You’ll have the chance to meet the author, Richard Peck this Thursday evening at 6 at the Library Center auditorium. This event requires tickets and there are still tickets available. Then this Friday evening at 7, Peck will give a talk entitled “From Grapes of Wrath to Grapes of Mirth” at the Library Center. Friday’s event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. For more information, call the Library Center at 882-0714.