Lois Lowry, author of numerous books including The Giver, remembers her mother reading The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to her as a child. She was struck not only by how she herself was moved by the story, but also by how it moved her mother in a similar way. She was not simply the recipient of the story, but was actually sharing the experience with an adult. Lowry's own books seem to transcend a reader's age in the same way.
Jerry Pinkney grew up on Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. It is no surprise that he packaged some of these stories for a new generation when he became an author. In fact, he won the Caldecott Medal in 2010 for The Lion and the Mouse, which is described as "a wordless retelling of an Aesop fable".
R.J. Palacio (Raquel Jaramillo)
The author of Wonder cut her literary teeth on D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. Mythology introduced her to a new world and spurred her imagination. In turn, she's done the same for countless readers—giving us an avenue to see things in new and important ways.
Shaun Tan, who released his well-known book The Arrival in 2006, found a copy of Animal Farm by George Orwell at his home when he was eight years old. Mistaking it for a children's book, his family read it aloud together. He didn’t understand the complexity of the allegory until a much later date, but he understood it in terms of the hierarchy of the playground. He understood that some were “more equal than others.”
Jeff Kinney remembers connecting with the book Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. He, himself, would go on to connect with scores of young readers in his series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
If you, like those early storytellers, are inspired to dispel shadows and illuminate ideas, read what these great authors wrote, read what they read, and then read them to someone else. It is in this way that the torch lit from that prehistoric fire is handed down to a new generation.