Every year, my children’s elementary school holds a literacy night, inviting families to come and participate in the fun of reading. The theme of this year’s event was entitled, ‘Literacy Knight’, and of course centered around medieval times. There were fantastic cardboard ‘castles’, set up all throughout the school. As part of the event, the school invites area authors to come and engage with students and their families, and this year, several wonderful authors came to share their time with the kids.
One of the main speakers for the event, was executive editor of Scholastic Press(http://www.scholastic.com/home/), Tracy Mack. She is the author of several young adult books, and has been a part of such publications as ‘The invention of Hugo Cabret’, by Brian Selznick. We are fortunate that we have Ms. Mack as part of our Berkshire community, and she graciously shares her time to benefit the children who live here.
One of the authors to visit the school last night, was Ty Allan Jackson(http://www.bigheadbooks.com/tys-bio). Jackson is loved by children far and wide for his wonderful personality and his entertaining children’s books. His book, ‘Danny Dollar Millionaire: The Lemonade Escapade’, is a great lesson on entrepreneurship, and one of my son’s favorites. In addition to being an author, Jackson also has his own publishing company, Big Head Books(http://www.bigheadbooks.com/), which promotes diversity and instilling a love for literature in all children.
‘I live in Stockbridge’, is written by author Susan Geller(http://alchemyinitiative.org/spotlight-susan-geller/) and is a wonderful account of living in a small town, as seen through the eyes of a child. It tells the history of twentieth century Stockbridge, and is a lovely read for adults, as well as the children, for whom the audience was intended. Originally published in 1976, an updated version was released in 2012. In addition to being an author, Geller is a prominent photographer in Berkshire County, and is often featured in area art events. Susan Merrill(http://susanmerrill.com/), is the illustrator for the book, and is also the author of a children’s book, ‘Washday’ and a novel, ‘Warm Morning’. Merrill is an accomplished artist, and her paintings of farm animals will be on display at Hancock Shaker Village(http://hancockshakervillage.org/), for their annual Baby Animals event in April.
Writer and Illustrator, Adam Gudeon(http://www.adamgudeon.com/) was there, with his whimsical illustrations that are part of his book, ‘Me and Meow‘. Gudeon comes to the Berkshires, by way of New York City, following the footsteps of many other artists who now call the Berkshires home. Many of the children last night were enamored by his drawings, and his table was surrounded by several kids, eager to learn more about the world of illustration.
Also present at this years Literacy Night, was author Jana Laiz(http://www.janalaiz.com/). Author to several children’s book, including ‘Elephants of the Tsunami’ and ‘The Twelfth Stone’, she is easily one of the most prolific authors in our area. Her book, ‘A Free Woman On God’s Earth‘, is a biography for children, based on the life of local freed slave, Elizabeth ‘Mumbet’ Freeman. Laiz offers writing workshops and visits area schools, where she leads specialized workshops for students. She is also a part of The Berkshire Festival of Women’s Writers(http://berkshirewomenwriters.org/), and will be hosting a writer’s workshop at Arrowhead(http://www.mobydick.org/), entitled ‘Inspired by Melville: Writing about Place‘, which will take place on Saturday, March 29th(find out more at janalaiz.com).
During the Literacy Night, the authors were available to speak with the children and to sign books, that were also available for purchase. The school had many fun activities for the kids, including a ‘student’s reader theater’, where the children read plays from scripts, a shadow puppet theater and other workshops. There was food and refreshments available, and a book swap for kids to find a new read.
I am proud of my child’s school, and the effort that they make to make education a wonderful experience for the children. The teachers and staff work tirelessly to ensure that the kids have fun times throughout the year, and it is only with their generous efforts that these events take place. The authors who gave their time last night, are such a great asset to our community. A phrase I learned early in life, ‘reading is fundamental’ is as true today, as it was in the past. Events like the school’s Literacy Night, help to ensure that we will have bright and educated citizens in the future. And as proof of the success of these events, as soon as my daughter was home and in her pajamas, the first thing she did was to cuddle up on the couch and open up a book, and disappear into her own little world of literacy.
Tags: Adam Gudeon, authors, berkshire, berkshire county, berkshiregirl, berkshires, books, Jana Laiz, Literacy, Literacy Night, reading, scholastic books, school, Susan Geller, Susan Merrill, Tracy Mack, Ty Allan Jackson