SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
There's a big green tinsel warning label across the cover of Martha Brockenbrough's new book "Love, Santa." It's a series of letters between a mother and a daughter. A little girl named Lucy begins to write Santa Claus when she's 7. Martha Brockenbrough is in our studios at NPR West. Could I get you to read the first three lines of that letter?
MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH: (Reading) Dear Santa, how do you get down all the chimneys? What happens when people live in homes without fireplaces? Why does your handwriting look like my mom's?
SIMON: "Love, Santa" is illustrated by Lee White. Martha Brockenbrough, thanks so much for joining us.
BROCKENBROUGH: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: Why did you write this book?
BROCKENBROUGH: I wrote this book for my daughter. And it actually wasn't ever meant to be a book at all. It was a letter to her. When she was in third grade, we were keeping a letter journal back and forth. She had dyslexia, and it was one of the ways that I was teaching her how to read and write.
And so she would bring home a letter from school, and I would write her a reply. And at one point, she asked me a really good question about Santa Claus. And this became my reply. And other parents found it really helpful. And so I posted it on a blog. And then The New York Times picked up a version on their online parenting section. And it went all around the world. And I never thought it would be a book. It was simply my answer to my daughter's excellent question.
And over a period of years, I kept thinking about it and shared it with my editor at Scholastic. And he thought there was a book in there. And it was really when I came upon the idea of writing it as a series of letters between a mom and a growing girl that, suddenly, its shape as a book took form.
SIMON: I have a question I'd like to pass along from our 11-year-old.
SIMON: All these letters - Santa's not on email, Twitter?
BROCKENBROUGH: (Laughter) You know, Santa is really wise and recognizes that social media, while it is a fun way to connect, can sometimes distract us from our real work. And the work of Santa is to spread love and joy and not just tweets.
SIMON: You've been preparing for this haven't you?
SIMON: Of course, we want every member of the family to be able to listen to this interview. And I'm sure you catch my drift. Parents want their children to grow and learn everything about the world - except maybe a couple things.
BROCKENBROUGH: Well, I think, you know, what all parents want is for our kids to grow up loving the world, feeling connected to each other. And there's lots of ways that we can teach children how, you know, there's such a thing as magic and wonder in the world. There's lots of ways we can build the capacity for faith and the power to imagine magic and a wonderful, beautiful dark time. You know, winter is the coldest, darkest time of the year. And how do we light that up?
SIMON: Casting back to when Lucy first wrote you that letter, what did you write back?
BROCKENBROUGH: Well, I wrote back something that is rather similar to what you read in the book. And what I explained to her was something that I had been thinking about for some time. You know, all along, we think about our kids and what we want to tell them at important milestones. This is one that I had actually been thinking about starting when I was 17 years old. I had a really wonderful English teacher, and he gave the graduation speech. And he concluded his speech with a two-word bit of advice. Have faith. In what? That's for you to decide.
And so I spent my late adolescence and my early adulthood deciding what it was that I was going to have faith in. And so I told my daughter to have faith in herself, in her family and her friends and even in things that we can't see or touch. And I told her, you know, here I'm talking about love, which is going to light your life from the inside out, even when it's cold and dark. And this is something that I truly believe - is that we can light each other's lives and that this source of magic that so enraptures us around this time of year - well, it's us.
SIMON: Martha Brockenbrough's new book, "Love, Santa."
Thanks so much, and happy holidays.
BROCKENBROUGH: Thanks, Scott. Same to you.
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