Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Deborah Wiles author visit!

Yesterday was a fabulous and BUSY day in the Lower School! Deborah Wiles, children's book author and National Book Award finalist for Each Little Bird That Sings and Revolution, spent the morning with us! 

(If you missed Deborah yesterday, you can see her at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh TONIGHT at 7pm and the Chatham Community Library TOMORROW at 4pm!)

In her first session with River and Sky classes, Deborah began with a yoga breathing exercise ("the yoga of writing") to illustrate that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. She shared photos of her writing life and let us in on her process of gathering ideas and turning them into stories. Deborah explained to students that all stories come from "what you know, what you feel, and what you can imagine." She also encouraged students to use their five senses to record their surroundings and ideas when brainstorming. Deborah led students in song and dance to her lullaby counting book One Wide Sky. She then read aloud Freedom Summer, offering insights into how and why she wrote the book, an especially salient topic as it was written about the summer of 1964. She concluded with the message that stories have the power to change lives and bring peace to the world.

 After chatting with teachers at snack time, Deborah returned to speak to Forest and Mountain classes. Students brought their writing notebooks with them and rapidly jotted ideas down as Deborah asked questions like "Do you ever visit relatives in the summer? Who are they and where do you go? Write it down!" As in the earlier presentation, Deborah shared pictures of her home and writing spaces and talked about her chapter books Love, Ruby Lavender and The Aurora County All-Stars. When showing photos of her inspirational places and people, students eagerly raised their hands and connected Deborah's real-life stories to the made-up ones in her books. We were all so impressed with how engaged and thoughtful our students were (as was Deborah!). Deborah emphasized that as writers, we should always be paying attention, asking questions, and making connections. Her writing tips and insights were well-received by students and teachers alike, and we so appreciated hearing such honest and thoughtful stories and advice.

 I could write on and on about how much we loved having Deborah visit our school and share her stories with us. She's an exceptional author, fantastic teacher, and a lovely person. If you ever have the chance, go see her speak!

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