Reading is a crucial part of creativity. As someone studying to become a writer, this fact has been made clear to me time and time again. Storytellers, whether authors, screenwriters, playwrights or poets, all know that in order to tell stories, one must read stories. Reading allows for one to internally experience a story, something that forces the reader to quite literally “create” the visual elements of the work in their mind. For this reason, reading can be understood as a creative exercise of the mind in which the reader is inspired to imagine. Reading a wealth of stories allows one to accumulate a wealth of creative potential in their own future work.
As a young child, I personally can recall creating a plethora of stories inspired by the picture books my mother would read to me; the Thomas the Tank Engine series was a particular favorite. Later in life, I discovered that thinking about the stories I had read was a beneficial tool in combating writer's block. This is not to advocate the theft of ideas, but to simply point out that all work is inspired from something, and without a large bank of great stories to fall back on, it nearly impossible to be creatively inspired to tell a great story yourself.
Today, my favorite books are absolutely the Harry Potter series. My dad began reading the first one to me when I was in elementary school, and I can remember finally finishing the last book during the summer before my first year of high school. These books helped to instill values that have stuck with me throughout my life thus far, such as loyalty and dedication to the things I believe in. These are values I fall back on when creating characters in my stories.
The Great American Read project has the potential to introduce many readers to great works that they may not have been exposed to before, as well as to inspire discourse around some of the most well-known classics. I believe that through celebrating America’s great novels, this project will inspire the next generation of storytellers. That’s why The Great American Read is important to me!
For more information, and to pick your favorite book, visit The Great American Read website. Join the conversation on social media using #GreatReadPBS.
Oh, and #VOTEPotter!
We're celebrating The Great American Read all summer long! Each week, we'll feature a Reader of the Week, selected by our stellar Arts team! The winner each week will receive a Great American Read prize pack, featuring special swag, including a T-shirt, buttons, stickers and more! Think you've got what it takes to be our Reader of the Week? Apply here!