As we embark on a new year, let’s make it the best reading year yet! In this edition, we bring you compelling stories that highlight the extraordinary impact books have on our lives, featuring the heartfelt narratives of Laura Gray, Florenza Lee, and Gloria G. Adams.
Let’s make 2024 a year filled with the magic of books!
~Kimberly Jarvis, Executive Director, Buckeye Book Fair
Resilience Between the Pages: How Books Saved My Life
by Florenza Lee
For those of us with a profound love for books, it’s clear that beyond the well-known benefits of reading such as improved reading comprehension, increased brain function, personal and academic growth, enhanced creativity and empathy, stress reduction, and mood improvement, there is a lesser-known superpower associated with books—they possess the ability to save lives. This isn’t merely hyperbole;
it’s an undeniable truth. As Anna Quindlen aptly expressed, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the and the journey. They are home.”
Consider, for a moment, those individuals whose homes are not safe havens. Or those whose ability to embark on a physical journey is confined to the proximity of the nearest bookshelf. It is for these souls that the pages of books become a sanctuary and a portal into other universes.
I entered this world in June 1964, in the vibrant city of Cleveland, Ohio, to young parents. Despite the nurturing, loving presence of our mother, my home life teetered on the edge of turmoil, reaching chaotic proportions. Throughout this tumultuous journey, books stood as my unwavering constant. I vividly recall the day I discovered that our local library allowed patrons to check out as many books as
one could carry—a revelation that felt akin to celestial beings singing in harmony. With uncontainable joy, I danced down those enchanting aisles brimming with books.
Books such as “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White imparted valuable lessons into my young life. Here are some of the key lessons I discovered between those pages: friendship, selflessness and sacrifice, compassion, and empathy, how to face mortality, influence of words, an appreciation for nature, individuality and uniqueness, and responsibility. As a second grader, these lessons were food to my soul. It would be when I discovered the writings of Maya Angelou that I found my voice.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” took me on a poignant exploration of human experience. I learned the power of having resilience in the face of adversity. Maya spoke of racism, trauma, and abuse, not from a place of victimhood, but from power. I discovered the importance of self-identity and realized that we are all unique and this uniqueness should not be feared but celebrated. It is our collective strength.
Like me, Maya faced many challenges within her family, but she continued to believe in family and community bonds. Her words took me on a journey to self-love, positive body image, and identity, and how to overcome societal expectations and judgments. Last, and most importantly, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” taught me the therapeutic power of artistic endeavors in navigating and overcoming
As a child or young adult, I do not ever recall a time when I faced racism, not while living in Ohio. My friendships were as diverse as the animals in Noah’s ark. It would be later, when I followed my husband to multiple duty stations with the United States Army, that I came to understand Maya’s words as they related to racism. Recalling the social and racial injustices of her time gave me courage to stand strong during my own battles. Most importantly, her words taught me that my horizons were only limited to myself. Maya taught me it was through education that she experienced her greatest personal growth. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” underscores the transformative power of education and the impact of literature on expanding one’s horizons and understanding. It would be then that I came to appreciate the true power of that little three-inch by five-inch library card that I loved so dearly. It was my passport. It gave me the power to teleport to anyplace, time, dimension, or universe. I could be anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Now, as an author/publisher, I have the awesome privilege of putting pen to paper and creating books for the next generation. Although slightly different from the books that left an indelible mark in my life (I write Picture Books, Early Reader Chapter Books, and Inspirational books), I hope the end results are the same. I hope my tagline becomes reality for many, “…feeding your mind one book at a time” and that young readers find hope, courage, love, and a safe haven within those pages.
Through the Tunnel to Meet Gloria G. Adams
Gloria G. Adams, the enchanting wordsmith rooted in Ohio’s small-town allure, unveils the charming tale of her literary journey. Picture a young Gloria, a stone’s throw from Lake Erie, navigating reading escapades through a mysterious tunnel to the local library. Those damp tunnels unwittingly shaped her path toward a fulfilling career as a librarian. Gloria’s dedication to nurturing young readers is evident in her children’s books, carefully crafted to strengthen vital reading skills. In her dream-turned-reality of becoming a published writer, she now wears multiple hats—freelance editor, storyteller, and indie publisher. Dive into an intimate conversation with this literary luminary on this podcast episode hosted by Anthony Manna. Also, for a mindful start to the new year, Gloria offers Gratitude Journals on her website that provide a thoughtful space for reflection and goal-setting. Gloria’s words transcend storytelling; they extend a heartfelt invitation to embrace the magic of reading and dreaming.
Inspiration Behind the Ink: Unveiling the Magic of “The Swing on the Silver Star in the Royal Purple Sky”
In the heart of adversity, inspiration can blossom into something truly magical. For the author of “The Swing on the Silver Star in the Royal Purple Sky,” the genesis of this whimsical tale emerged from a profound personal journey.
As a small child, Laura Gray was grappling with severe trauma, she sought renewal on a December night in 2022. A heartfelt prayer to reconnect with inner light and rediscover childlike wonder echoed in the early hours of the next morning. In a serendipitous moment, the author, startled awake at 5 am, penned the enchanting story that became a testament to resilience and the restoration of wonder.
The narrative, brought to life with captivating illustrations by artist Bonnie Lemaire, unfolded effortlessly from the heart onto the paper. A tale born from a prayer, “The Swing on the Silver Star in the Royal Purple Sky” stands as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling.
Connecting with Readers: Nurturing Self-Love and Inclusivity through Storytelling
In a literary landscape rich with diverse tastes, the author aims to connect with readers across backgrounds and interests through a universal message. “The Swing on the Silver Star in the Royal Purple Sky” subtly champions the essential need for all children to feel safe, beautiful, and loved. It also touches on inclusivity as the little girl joyfully embraces dandelions in her garden.
Readers embark on a journey through frosty snowflakes, fields of flowers, and colorful underwater worlds. The story culminates at a wooden swing in the backyard, where the little girl discovers the universal message of self-love and the radiance of one’s inner light.
Buckeye Book Fair Experience: A First-time Author’s Journey
For Laura Gray, being part of the Buckeye Book Fair was a remarkable and honor-filled experience. As a first-time author, the sense of camaraderie and community at this longstanding literary tradition left an indelible mark. Memorable interactions with fellow authors and attendees, the warm encouragement, and the genuine support resonated deeply.
Books Save Lives: A Journey Inward with “Diana, Herself”
In response to the theme “Books Save Lives,” the Laura shared a transformative experience with the book “Diana, Herself” by Martha Beck. Recommended by a former physician and read multiple times, this book ignited a profound inward journey—a path of deep reflection, healing, and self-love. “Diana, Herself” became a catalyst for drastic change and a paradigm shift, illustrating the life-altering impact books can have on our personal narratives.
As we explore the pages of “The Swing on the Silver Star in the Royal Purple Sky,” we find not just a story but a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of inclusivity, and the profound impact of books on our lives.
The Buckeye Book Fair aims to celebrate the life-saving power of books. We invite you to read, reflect, and join us in supporting our mission. Your donations make a difference, fostering literacy, supporting local authors, and spreading the love for reading in our community.
Please consider kicking off the year with a contribution of $50 on our home page at www.buckeyebookfair.org. As a token of our appreciation, we’ll send an Ohio Book to kickstart your 2024 reading adventures.