By Julie Krienke
DELANO, MN William Diem, a second grade student at Delano Elementary School, had a poem published in the May 2010 issue of the national magazine Highlights for Children.
Called Billy by his family and friends, this 8-year-old child is the son of Timothy and Toni Diem of Delano.
According to Hillary Bates, manager and communications specialist at Highlights, the magazine receives well over 35,000 submissions each year from readers.
Highlights publishes work from children around the world in order to promote children’s creativity.
Among the thousands of submissions recieved by Highlights magazine, Billy’s poem, called “The Woods,” was selected to appear in the “Your Own Pages” section of the magazine.
Billy is the oldest of three children. His younger siblings are Paul, 6, and Jack, 3.
“Billy is a great kid and super big brother who loves Star Wars Legos and building things,” his mother, Toni said. “He and his brother like to play the Wii together on the weekends.”
When he grows up, Billy aspires to become an architect and a police officer.
Billy was 6 years old and attending kindergarten when he wrote “The Woods.”
“We were subscribing to Highlights at the time, and I read some of the poems written in by other kids his age,” Toni said. “I pointed out that he could write something of his own and send it in and have his name in the magazine.”
According to Toni, Billy was interested in writing to the magazine, but he did not know what subject to write about.
“I suggested the woods, and he composed the poem,” Toni said.
Billy submitted a picture to go along with his poem, although the drawing was not published.
“After we sent it in, the magazine wrote back and thanked him for sending in his poem and drawing and indicated that it sometimes takes a long time even a year or more for a composition to get published due to the amount that they receive,” Toni explained.
In April, the Diem family received a letter from Highlights magazine saying that Billy’s poem, “The Woods” would be published in the May issue.
“They sent us press releases to fill out and said they would send us two free copies of the magazine,” Toni said.
Billy’s parents were extremely proud of him. “I think we were more excited than he was,” Toni claimed. “It is really neat to see the May issue of Highlights in the doctor’s office and find his name on page 20.”
Delano Elementary School also recognized Billy’s achievement.
“Billy got to read his poem over the loudspeaker at school during announcement time,” Toni said.
As one of the most popular children’s magazines in the nation, Highlights has encouraged education in children like Billy for generations.
In fact, the magazine published its one-billionth copy in June 2006.
Highlights has accepted artwork and poetry from readers since its first issue in 1946. Bates explains that part of the magazine’s mission is to inspire children to be “creative, confident, caring and curious.”
“We think that asking them to share their creative work with other kids will inspire them, and that getting to see the work of other kids around the world will in turn inspire other kids to get to work on their own artwork, stories and poems,” Bates said.
Editors at Highlights magazine review all of the letters and emails that are received from readers at the headquarters in Columbus, OH.
According to Bates, “They often say that reading that mail from kids is the best part of their jobs.”
“Because we get so many submissions, we cannot say that we choose the best ones,” Bates said. “But we do try to pick ones that represent a child’s best effort, and that we think will appeal to our readers.”
Obviously, Billy’s publication proves that he is a talented child.
“Over the years, some of the kids we’ve published have grown up to be famous authors and illustrators,” Bates explained.
Among these prominent individuals is the co-author of the best seller “Freakonomics,” Steven Dubner. Now, Dubner is an award-winning author and journalist.
According to Bates, Highlights is the best-read magazine in the United States. Currently, the magazine has 2 million subscribers.
“It has been a part of American childhood for more than six decades,” Bates said.
The magazine includes children’s favorites like “Hidden Pictures,” “Goofus and Gallant” and “What’s Wrong?”
There is no doubt that Highlights magazine has encouraged creativity among children over the years. Billy’s publication is a great achievement, and accomplishments like Billy’s are huge stepping-stones that will contribute to the child’s future potential.