My first visit to a group of Girl Scouts in E. Troy, Wisc. has made me a believer in Scouting.
Yes, I was a Brownie and did my stint in Girl Scouts growing up in Chicago. I don't remember much beyond a fuzzy recollection of a talent show and my singing Herman's Hermits' "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter." (I don't know why, though I do still like the song a little.)
I was impressed to find 16 middle grade girls, excited to meet a writer and talk books. When I asked who wrote stories, nearly all raised their hand. When I asked who read, again, the response was overwhelming.
After some questions and comments, we talked out a potential mystery story. It was interesting to get their take on ideas, despite their love for talking animals. :>)
Funny thing is when they asked about other books I was working on after Searching For A Starry Night, I mentioned my adult mystery set in an old vaudeville theater. Blank stares. They had no idea what vaudeville was, or even who George Burns was. Even if it's super-ancient to them, I found that surprising that no one recognized him, either, and a bit sad. (I'll be continuing this thought in tomorrow's post.)
We met for nearly two hours, which was probably a bit long as by the end they were getting a bit bored and antsy, so I'd probably do something different next time, though I'm not sure what. Any suggestions?
Despite the moaning you hear in the industry and online about people or kids not reading, that's not what I witnessed. These girls loved to read. They read more than one book a week (several even!) and read in different genres. They loved to write, too. Who knows if the next Eudora Welty or Debbie Macomber may come out of this group?
So, don't despair. Readers are out there.