Articles tagged "inspire"

“Butterfly in the sky…”

LeVar Burton, doing what he loves.

So, last night I found the picture below on the often hilarious shirt.woot.com. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my favorite show as a kid: Reading Rainbow. Sadly, I realized that, before last night, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I even thought about this program. Then it dawned on me…the entire reason I like books, love writing, and work at a self-publishing company isn’t because of all the Hemingways, Faulkners, and Emersons – it is because of one man: LeVar Burton.

With his warm, friendly charm, Burton captured childrens’ imaginations each week with fun stories, guest celebrity appearances, and a genuine enthusiasm to inspire kids to read. Without this show, I wouldn’t have discovered greats like Goodnight Moon, Miss Nelson is Missing,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Where the Wild Things Are. Even more remarkable is Burton’s 20+ year struggle with dyslexia, which he overcame before auditioning for Reading Rainbow.

It took a silly cartoon to remind me, but Burton really is a true inspiration. He diligently piloted the show Reading Rainbow, helping it win a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards. The man is almost single-handedly responsible for helping four generations of kids not only learn to read, but find the fun in it. My favorite episode was when he went to a hat store. Each hat would magically transport him into the pages of a story. I remember endlessly begging my mother to take me to that shop for the better part of my youth.  I think I speak for several hundred-thousand kids when I say:  Thank you Mr. Burton. Thank you for teaching us that yes, “we can do anything.”

Wonderfully enough, Reading Rainbow will be coming back on an iPad® near you soon. According to Fast Company, Burton plans on revitalizing the show as a multimedia app with games, voiceovers, and over 300 books at launch. “But, you don’t have to take my word for it…”


What’s your favorite Reading Rainbow memory? Did it impact you as much as it did so many other young readers? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also be sure to learn about Lulu’s own literacy program:  Lulu for Literacy.

Winner of the Bedtime Stories Contest

Back in October, we announced the Bedtime Stories contest that the folks over at Nature Made Sleep® were holding. The contest was open to anyone unafraid to let loose their imaginations and offered the perfect opportunity to show some creativity and share it with others.

Over the course of three months, 382 aspiring authors submitted their sleep-inducing stories and gave the judges some tough decisions to make. It was inspiring to see so many people take a chance on putting their ideas out there. And I bet many authors were surprised to learn how talented they are.

After tallying 5,162 votes, and reading each story cover-to-cover, the judges narrowed the results down to one grand prize winner: Tracey-Jane Smith for her story, Addie and Ollie, which teaches the importance of friendship even when someone is different from you.

As the grand prize winner, Tracey-Jane Smith will receive:

  • A $7500 cash prize
  • A publishing prize pack, sponsored by Lulu.com, where her story will be professionally illustrated
  • 10 printed copies of her book
  • 1-year supply of Nature Made Sleep

Please help me in congratulating Smith and all of the participants of the Bedtime Stories contest in the comments below. You can check out Smith’s story and the two runners-up on the Nature Made blog. Also be sure to keep checking the Lulu blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages for more contests to spark your creativity in the future.

Reluctance to Renown: Nobel Prize Winning Books

We’re big fans of books here at Lulu, so the office has been abuzz today about the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa. The 74-year-old Peruvian writer is the first South American author to win the prestigious award since 1982.

He’s been a very influential political figure throughout his life having written over 30 novels that revolve around life and the balance of power in Latin America (check out his works in the Lulu Marketplace). In the early’ 90s, Vargas Llosa even made a run for the presidency in Peru. He’s highly regarded throughout many Spanish-speaking countries for being a vigorous activist devoted to correcting social wrongs.

So I was struck by this line in an article from The New York Times:

“Like most writers toiling, I have always had the uncomfortable feeling that you never know if what you are doing has any real impact,” Vargas Llosa said.

I hear from writers all the time that are worried about whether their work matters, and here is an author who has reached the utmost prestige of literature with the same concern.

It should be an inspiration to all us, no matter the obstacles, to just get our work out there. You never know if The Swedish Academy might be calling you. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Focus: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is a very exciting month for many reasons – pumpkins, costumes, football games, etc. But it’s also an important month for one very special reason. I’ll give you a hint…think PINK!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, about 207,090 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States this year. That’s a scary statistic, but the good news is that there so many foundations, blogs, and, of course, books out there dedicated to keeping people informed and to providing support to those experiencing the disease, firsthand.

On Lulu, we are lucky enough to have some great titles right at our fingertips! Whether you have been personally touched by breast cancer or are just looking for a way to contribute to the cause, here are a couple of books that may be just what you’re looking for.

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Becoming Whole
by Meg Wolff

Written by cancer survivor, Meg Wolff, this book tells the story of her complete recovery from breast cancer after being told that a mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy couldn’t stop her disease. Instead of giving up, Wolff took a different approach by changing her diet and is now a living testament that changing your diet can save your life.

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Mommy Found a Lump
by Nathalie G. Johnson, M.D.

This children’s book, complete with colored illustrations, was designed as a guide to assist parents in helping their children understand what a family experiences when a parent goes through the treatment of breast cancer.  A portion of all sales will be donated to cancer research.

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Eat for the Cure
by Maria Fernandez

This cookbook is a compilation of recipes contributed by women all over the country, dedicated to the discovery of a cure for breast cancer. With recipes ranging from Baked Apple French Toast to Jalapeño Havarti Cheese Grits, your taste buds will thank you! All profits made from sales will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

“Be the Adventure You Dream.”

I found this incredibly inspiring story while I was poking around Facebook and just had to share it. It is a note by writer J.C. Hutchins about his good friend and fellow writer Zellie Blake.

Blake was a talented young woman who recently passed away due to cancer. Her story is a testament to the passion and tenacity every author must embody in order to see their dreams through and share their remarkable works and ideas with the world.

Knowing her strong desire to have her book published, Blake’s friends all chipped in to make her book a reality by making it available on Lulu.com. Enjoy this amazing story. And be sure to check out Blake’s book Lightning Spliced.

Zellie Blake, a generous and beautiful woman — a fellow writer and dreamer — died two days ago. She was 27 years old.

Zellie was a tireless champion of my work. She once said I was an inspiration for her own writing career goals, but she will always be an inspiration for me. Her friends say that throughout her treatment, Zellie never lost her sense of humor or optimistic verve. She wrote often, and well.
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Her personal mantra was, “Be the adventure you dream.” I am hard-pressed to think of a more inspiring and empowering personal philosophy.