Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

On Friday, 11/20, Philly was alive with the sounds of Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamiliton.  They were speakers at the Friday General Session.  Although her daughter spoke for a longer period of time than Ms. Andrews, it was a treat to hear from them both... I sat there, a bit in awe.  After all, this was the voice of the woman who for so many years has filled our lives with song and laughter... and there she was "spit..spot" talking to us about her love of reading and how she shared that love with her family.
     Ms. Andrews explained to us that she despises being called a called a celebrity author, because she was an author long before she was a celebrity and that writing has always been an important part of her life.  She said that when she was being tutored as a child actor, her teacher would reward her for doing other work by giving her time to write.  She said it was her father, a teacher, who taught her, "the beauty and power of language."  She also noted that, "My life in the arts has always been about evoking images" and that writing allows her to "celebrate a sense of words, wonder, and wisdom."  She credits her father for teaching her that we must "notice the miracles that happen under our noses every day."
     Her daughter, Emma, is an author of her own books as well as co-author of several books with her mother.  She has a book called Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids to Read for Pleasure and Empowerment.  While she is an "arts" teacher and not a teacher of reading, she says that we must, "restore or create a primal connection to reading."  She noted that reading, especially poetry, brings, "a vision of beauty, meaning, and joy in the world" and that everyone "deserves the open destiny of life" that reading can bring.
     I don't know what I expected when I heard that both Ms. Andrews and her daughter would be speaking, but I left the session pleasantly surprised... by their passion, by their love of language and literature, by their commitment to writing, by their loving and caring relationship, and by their belief that "words illuminate life."  
     I loved the story of how her own children asked her to repay a debt to them by writing them a story.  She asked them, "What should my forfeit be?" And they said a story.  That's how Mandy was born.  It was a great way to start a conference!  Like brown paper packages, tied up with string...

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