Read to Remember

Read to Remember

Posted on May 7 by Jennifer Maruno
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The TD Canadian Children's Book Week, held in May, celebrates children's books across Canada.  This year's theme, Read to Remember, is of special interest to me as I write historical fiction.

I developed a love of history early in life, fascinated by artifacts, stories of the past, old atlases  and maps. As a child, every summer holiday included a visit to a historic site or a special new place that we would later be able to say, "I saw that being built."  Only I know the significance of grainy photographs of soil-laden trucks  as we witnessed the digging of the St. Lawrence Seaway or the excavation of the mission of Sainte-Marie.  One of my father's favourite phrases was, "If these walls could only talk."

My mother-in-law was not interested in talking about the past and often used a 'push-away' hand gesture saying it was just "raking over old coals".  She had good reason not to relive the years between 1942- 1945. The Canadian government sent her husband to a road camp in the Rocky mountains and interned her along with her children, parents and sisters in a ghost town in the Kootenay Mountains.  Looking forward became her way of surviving.

Raking over old coals and making walls talk is exactly what authors do when they write historical fiction.  My mother-in-law's reticence gave me the impetus to tell the history of the Japanese internment in the Cherry Blossom Books. My father's memoirs of being a WW2 signaller led me to write Kid Soldier.

When young adults read my novels, they are given the chance to understand Canada's history through the life, loves and emotions of those that lived it. In May, everyone needs to pick up a novel of historical fiction, in order to Read to Remember.

Jennifer Maruno

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014
Jennifer Maruno photo

Jennifer Maruno

Jennifer Maruno is a long-time educator and author. Her debut novel, When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award and the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers Choice Award. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.