Individuality and acceptance were key issues discussed last Wednesday night in Phillips Autograph Library by an acclaimed author as he spoke about how hard it is to be different for junior high and high school students today.James Howe, author of over 70 children’s books including, “Pinky and Rex” and “Misfits,” spoke last week about how it feels to be different, and the power of words.
Why it is so hard to accept someone so different is the central question in his book entitled, “Misfits,” which is based on the author’s own experiences as an adolescent.
Howe used animals and insects to depict people of his own encounters in his books.
He said that he believed every name that he was called in school and that it was unfair for one to feel that way.
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me, anyone who believes that is wrong,” said Howe.
“Names are words and words are power,” he stated.
Throughout his books, Howe said that he used words to not only give power to the characters, but to the reader as well.
Before revealing his own homosexuality, Howe stated that a character, named Joe admits that he is a homosexual as well, to let the other misfits know that it is, “okay to celebrate their individuality.”
Howe stated that it was not until he reached the age of 16 that he began to feel that being different was okay. That is, until he got to college and noticed the large “in crowd.”
Howe closed his lecture by stating that he writes to celebrate himself.
He wants his readers to have the words to tell their own stories. Howe calls these expressions, “words to celebrate their truth.”
Since the publication of “Misfits” in 2001, many schools have incorporated a number of Howe’s books into their libraries.
Some schools have even implemented a “No name-call-ing week” into their schedules where they take the time out to celebrate diversity and acceptance.
Howe advises students to “use the power of words to end the damage words can do.