Young Readers and Writers

Author Donny Bailey Seagraves speaking to children at Barrow Elementary School in Athens, Georgia

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as an author of children’s books is, “Why do you write for kids?” My usual answer is, “Because young readers are the most important readers in the world.” I became an avid reader around the age of eight. Each summer, my mom took me to the Athens Georgia Regional Library, where I signed up for the summer book club. I still remember my favorite book club summer when I read 50 books and got an award. The theme that year was Johnny Appleseed. Our big end-of-the-summer party was held at the Palace Theater in downtown Athens, one of the few air conditioned places of my childhood.

Athens Regional LibraryTips for Young Readers and Writers

  • Visit your local library and sign up for the summer book club. Read as many books as you can. You might win a prize and you'll certainly improve your grades when you go back to school at the end of the summer.
  • If it's not summer when you read the previous tip, go to the library anyway. Browse the shelves of the children's department and ask the librarian for book recommendations. Every day of the year should be a reading day for you. Reading does not have a season!

My Favorite Book

The Wizard of Oz

My favorite book from childhood was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. If you haven't read this book yet, (watching the movie is a good thing to do, but it's not a substitute for reading the book), I highly recommend that you read it as soon as possible. You can find it at your local library or online on websites such as

Way back when I was in sixth grade, I attended Oconee Street School in Athens, Georgia. My teacher was Mrs. Martin, a stern white-haired woman. About halfway through that long-ago school year, my family moved into a new brick ranch house we had built near Winterville, Georgia, and as a result of the move, I got to choose which school I would attend for the remainder of the school year.

I visited two schools nearest our new house: Gaines Elementary School and Winterville Elementary. After much thought, I picked Winterville Elementary. This choice made a huge difference in my life. Winterville back then was a typical small Southern town where everyone knew everyone else and life was slow and less stressful. I learned to love Winterville and many years later, when I sat down to write the manuscript that would become Gone From These Woods, I used Winterville, Georgia as the model for the small town of Newtonville, the setting for GFTW.

More Reading for Young Readers and Writers