Back to Work: Reclaiming the Vocation

I've taken a bit of a break from my full-time work of writing books for young readers to launch our twins to college. Now that they're there and I'm back in an empty nest, I've been entertaining crazy thoughts of reinventing myself (and our bank account) with a new vocation.

Maybe I should "get a real job" as a social media guru, exploiting my twitter and facebook skills to help pay for tuition. Or I could be doing something that "makes a difference" by working for a nonprofit to battle hunger or illiteracy.

That's when I have to remind myself of a truth I've claimed and declaimed since I started in this line of work: stories can and do change the world by widening the hearts and minds of young people.

I spoke about this very topic at the Highlights Foundation Chautauqua Writers Workshop in July. And now my hypothesis has some research to back it up:
Researchers have measured the impact of reading fiction, and find that it "improves empathy" in young people.

So guess what? I'm heading back to my real job—writing children's and teen books. It's good to be home.