Sharing a moment with school librarians as she signs her Newbery Award winning Kira-Kira at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2005
CYNTHIA KADOHATA, award-winning author of young adult novels Kira-Kira (2005 John Newbery Medal winner), A Million Shades of Gray, Weedflower, Cracker!, Outside Beauty and The Thing About Luck writes:
I was born in Chicago in 1956. I lived there briefly and then moved to Georgia, then to Arkansas, then to Holland, Michigan (home of LifeSavers candy), and then back to Chicago. After I was grown up I lived other places, but those towns and cities where I lived as a child are where I was formed.
One of the events that influenced me most in my life was when I was a little girl and my mother gave me a Scientific American article about peer pressure. The article described an experiment where twelve people would sit around a table and look at a blackboard. A researcher would draw two lines on the blackboard, one longer than the other. Then the researcher would go around the table asking everybody which line was longer. Eleven of the people correctly believed that the researchers were studying peer pressure. The twelfth person-- the test subject -- believed that the researchers were testing vision.
The eleven who were in on the experiment would sometimes give the wrong answer when asked which line was longer. Most of the time, the twelfth person would give in to peer pressure and say the wrong line was longer. The amazing thing was that the twelfth person, when asked later, said he truly thought the wrong line was longer. The peer pressure had actually changed what the twelfth person saw with his own eyes.
But once in a while there would be a person who could stand up to the peer pressure. He would not let the others influence what he saw with his own eyes. People like this were in the minority.
My mother showed me this article because she wanted me to be like those people who knew what they saw with their own eyes. Sometimes this would be a lonely road, but the correct one. I have not always been successful at staying on this road, but I have tried.
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