Literary Lots: Everyday Magic (2013)

Kids get this. They’re open to the everyday magic that we no longer see and thrill to the delight of visiting imaginary places. So when Kauser Razvi approached me about helping with the Literary Lots, I didn’t need much convincing. More than anything else, a single word she’d used hooked me: “Fantastical.”

As Kauser explained last month, creative use of existing and potential public spaces is a big deal in Cleveland, where the population keeps shrinking but the old borders remain in place. That’s an important element of Literary Lots. But so too is capitalizing on that fascination that kids have with stories by meeting them on their level — which is higher than ours.

That’s why I love Kauser’s vision for Literary Lots — it’s ambitious and inspired. Reading books to kids, and engaging them in arts and writing programs, that’s all great; but offering those things in a story-inspired setting they’ve never seen before is better by leaps and bounds. It engages kids in new ways, bringing together resources only adults can provide and the creative energy only kids possess. It helps them see the possibilities for urban neighborhoods, and the power of ideas. And we hope it will serve as a launching pad for still more ideas.

Writing is about far more than telling stories. It’s the science of expression. It’s algebra with words. It’s the social studies of one’s own life. Writing exercises all the mental muscle groups and sharpens vision. It’s the most powerful force available to humans. It is — and I say this with a straight face — a form of magic. And kids need to know that some magic is indeed real.

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