Why children's authors and illustrators should be running the country:
1) Empathy is one of our job requirements. Every book, every character we write or draw requires us to walk in another's shoes. We don't always do it perfectly, but we often know when we're not succeeding. And then we try harder.
2) We understand kids' widely varying circumstances. One day we might visit a school that charges $20,000 tuition for kindergartners. The next, a broken-down school where a kid goes to the office because her outgrown shoes are making her feet hurt. (And we see the secretary who goes into the back to try to find bigger shoes for that kid. We know about unsung heroes.) We visit schools where, if not for subsidized school meals, the kids would go hungry. We know you can't learn when you're hungry.
3) Money is not our first priority. (If it is, we're in the wrong field.) We do what we do because we love it, and because we know kids deserve the very best.
4) We see connections. We know a single act of kindness can change the course of a child's life. We know a single caring adult can be a lifeline. We've written these things. We've lived them. We remember.
5) We know art and music and dance and theater are not expendable. They save lives. Indeed, they have saved some of ours.
6) We're good at waiting. The book we're working on now may not sell for five years. It may not come out for ten. That doesn't mean it's not worth doing. We're not looking for quick payoffs. Quick payoffs often come at the expense of one's soul. (Congress, please note.)
7) We take the long view. It's great when a child says she loves our books. But it's even better if the child, through reading our books, develops her own empathy and grows up to walk through life understanding others' points of view, looking beyond stereotypes, and treating others with kindness and compassion. And thus makes the world better.
8) We understand cooperation. We understand synergy. We know we're stronger together.
9) We live in a world of imagination and magic and possibilities. Hate and fear exist, but they're obstacles to be overcome, not operating instructions.
10) We're nice.