OGDEN — Author Brad Meltzer, not surprisingly, believes in the power of books and stories in helping kids open themselves up to the possibilities ahead of them.
“They show your potential, and our kids need to realize their own potential,” he said, drawing a contrast with social media. “So much to social media shows you your limits. Isn’t it time we show kids their potential?”
It can be tough trying to counter the power of social media, full of negativity, but Meltzer — the featured speaker at the Ogden School Foundation’s Fall Author Event this year — says “you have to meet kids where they are.” That is, parents need to find reading material based on their kids’ interests, whether that’s sports, animals, art or whatever.
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“When you find what kids love and show them other people who love the same things, just get out of the way,” he said.
Meltzer, based in Florida, is the author of thrillers, nonfiction, comic books, kids books and more. He spoke at the Fall Author Event on Thursday, and on Friday he met with fifth- and sixth-graders from across the Ogden School District at Ogden High School. He speaks regularly across the country at schools and with student groups. In his travels, he said, he has been struck by “just how much our kids have in common, wherever they are.”
Earlier, he spoke with the Standard-Examiner about the import of reading, how to get kids interested in reading and more.
He doesn’t see any particular genre as more appealing than another to kids, teens or others. It’s about the characters — the characters in books that give readers a window into their own lives.
“It’s funny, everyone always wants to say that there’s a certain genre that’s working at the moment, but in every genre all kids are ever reacting to is seeing themselves,” he said. “What kids are seeing in all those stories is they’re seeing themselves and they’re seeing what it’s like when it feels like the world is against you.”
His general advice to kids is to search out what it is that interests them. He had a teacher when he was a kid who fostered his interest in writing and the impact lasted.
“What I would say to every kid out there is the same advice that my teacher gave me, which is to find what you love to do. And when you find that passion, you’ll see that it just becomes something that makes you really unstoppable,” he said.
As for his own writing, Meltzer’s interests run the gamut — thrillers focused on power and the political system, Batman comics, biographies of famous people geared to kids and more. “I write what I love. I love stories of heroes. I love stories that are mysteries. I love stories that really happened,” he said.
As far as the inspiration for writing, he says the process can be cathartic. “It’s me working out the things I’m dealing with personally. I think it’s me dealing with fears I have and questions I have,” he said.
Nevertheless, writing isn’t always glamorous, he told the small group of students he met with on Friday before speaking to a larger group in the Ogden High School auditorium. “It’s a job. People think it’s magic. It’s not. It’s work,” he said.