Dear 11-Year-Old Irene Latham

Dear 11-Year-Old Me,

What gifts your parents have given you—
a houseful of siblings/playmates;
piano, books, and art supplies;
a home on a country road with endless
daylight hours to explore, imagine, dream.

Irene & Cinnamon (& Sugar)

You already know the important things:
     Broken bones heal best with ice cream,
books, games, sisters, and long walks outdoors.
Use this to heal yourself after other breaks
and losses, too.

     You don't need money—only imagination—
to have a good time.

     One devoted companion is worth
more than a million followers
online (you'll find out what this means later).

     Better to be quiet, than to say something mean.

Just as the seasons change, you'll change, too.
For now, savor the scent of hay and sunshine
as you hang out with the ponies in the pasture.

Keep reading and writing.

You won't believe it, but someday
you'll take those poems and stories
out of the drawers.

You'll stand in front of crowds to share your words,
with nary a quiver.

There are more surprises in store—
lessons you'll have to learn the hard way,
miracles, and for every heartache,
a forest-ful of fairy tale endings.

Every twist in the road brings you back
to all the things you value right now—
freedom, imagination, beauty, love.

Remember: You are beautiful.
You are enough.

Keep loving and creating,
and you will emerge
on the other side of every storm.


50-Year-Old Me

Irene Latham is a grateful creator of many novels, poetry collections, and picture books, including the coauthored Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, which earned a Charlotte Huck Honor, and The Cat Man of Aleppo, which won a Caldecott Honor. Irene lives on a lake in rural Alabama.


  1. Love this Irene! Makes me feel ii years old again.

  2. Well, this made me cry. I wonder what my 60 year-old me will say to my 11 year-old self?

  3. Irene, I enjoyed your letter to self. I think I might try that for my granddaughters. It would be something that they could look back on when they graduate from high school.

  4. Thank you for sharing this tender, wise letter. It's good advice for everyone, no matter how old they are!


Post a Comment