"Books are like people. They have personalities. And we don't like some of them when we first meet them. But if we keep looking, we will find books that speak to us. And they can open new worlds."
Those words were part of LouAnne Johnson's speech to Eisenhower Middle School students during their recent Literacy Day celebration. Events included a special tea for grandparents and a book fair in the school library. Johnson encouraged reluctant readers to visit some websites that provide information about light sensitivity, which can make reading a chore instead of a joy. She ended her talk by encouraging students to follow their hearts and their dreams.
"You may not reach your original goal," Johnson told the students, "but you may find something even more interesting. And if your friends don't encourage you to follow your dreams, get new friends. Friends don't hold you down. They lift you up."
Johnson is a Youngsville native and the author of the memoir that was adapted for the hit movie, "Dangerous Minds," starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
She has written a number of books for teachers, but her newest venture is for younger readers. At the literacy day celebration, Johnson read from "That Darn Donkey!" The book is based on the true story of Pardo, a wild burro she adopted in New Mexico.
Johnson will be reading and signing copies of "That Darn Donkey!" at Authors Books & Music in Warren on Saturday from 1-3 p.m. She will also play her guitar and share a song she wrote called, "Pardo is a Burro." Audience members will be invited to sing along. The song can be viewed in a five-minute video clip on YouTube.
Readers will note that the cover of "That Darn Donkey!" doesn't list Johnson as the author. Instead, it was written and illustrated by Alyce Shirleydaughter, a pen name that Johnson uses in honor of her mother, Alyce Shirley Lauffenberger.
"My mother fought breast cancer twice," Johnson said, "but she lost the battle in the end. To honor her memory, I self-publish my fiction under the name 'Alyce Shirleydaughter,' and I send a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research."
A direct link to the video clip of Pardo's song and information about Johnson's other fiction is available online at www.AlyceBooks.com.