Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Meeting An Author

For one all-too-short hour at school this afternoon I had the privilege of listening to a published author speak to our 4th graders. March is always PARP (Parents As Reading Partners) month. This program promotes reading to our students
across the country. We always have some interesting events as part of this program. Gary VanRiper came to our school to share his knowledge and expertise with the children and to encourage future would-be authors to try their hand at writing. But most or all he came to encourage READING. He had a friendly rapport with the children that held their attention easily as he shared his lessons and fascinating stories of how a series of middle chapter books titled "The Adirondack Kids" came to be.
The really unique thing about this series is that it’s co-authored by father and son. Gary and his now 16-year-old son, Justin, write these books together! And Mrs. VanRiper (Carol) has joined the team and now illustrates the books, so it’s a real family effort.

The first book began as a home writing project when Justin was in 3rd grade. He wrote an essay about adventures at the family’s summer camp on Fourth Lake in the beautiful Adirondack Mountain region, which is not far away from us, here in upstate NY.
Gary read a chapter of Justin’s story when asked to attend a PARP program and Justin introduced the characters. Then people wanted to know when the book was coming out! That story grew into a 15 chapter book which was self-published by the family and made the best seller list and the #1 regional book. From there the series grew into a sequel, and then a 3rd book and a 4th and 5th …..the 6th book in the series is due to go on sale in two weeks!
The main character in the stories is Justin, who is fashioned after the ‘real’ Justin. He has exciting adventures each summer at camp with his two best friends, and his cat, Dax. The family really does have a calico cat named Dax and the story of how they acquired this kitty is a good one. You can read it, and see a picture of Dax by clicking this link, and scrolling down the page to the ‘Most Asked Questions’ section.
One of the childrens' favorite parts of the program today was when Gary showed them pictures of Dax on an overhead projector, and told them her story. They searched for a special cat for the adventure series and found Dax, who was just purrrfect, at the Rome Humane Society.
There’s a couple of newspaper articles about the father and son writing team which are very interesting, as well as lots of other good stuff.
The stories use history, local landmarks and characters kids can relate to. When kids can read about a place that they’ve actually been to, like the Pied Piper ice cream stand, they are hooked. And knowing that someone close to their age actually wrote a book is a real encouragement to them.
The first and last thought that Gary VanRiper left the kids with was this:
‘READ! If you are not a reader, you will never be a writer. Every book you read is like taking a writer’s workshop’.

Food for thought, yes?
Maybe you too can write a book!


jellyhead said...[Reply]

Great post, Kerri! I especially like the concept that to learn to write well, we must read widely. It's a brilliant reason to bury my head in some more books!

As for writing a book...that sounds like a long, hard slog. I'm happy with blogging :)

Sue said...[Reply]

Loved this post about children's literacy! It is so important that children develop good reading skills.
It really is one of the most important cornerstones of education!

Abandoned in Pasadena said...[Reply]

That was such a great post Kerry, and I only hoped that I had been a reader at a young age, but I wasn't. Children that are encouraged to read and who love it, I think do much better in school.

And how nice for the kids to meet an author, or authors they can relate to...I think this will encourage some of your students that weren't readers to read. The series of books sounds very interesting.

Val said...[Reply]

Wonderful post, Kerri, it appeals to me as librarian and parent. From the child's perspective too: my mother read to us extensively when we were little, and it was a great start in life.

I like the idea of two generations writing together like that. That would give more depth to their relationship, as well as opening up a broader window to the readers.

Connie and Rob said...[Reply]

What a wonderful experience for such small children. I am sure he inspired quite a few.

I love to read but I just don't have that talent for words to flow into a story. I admire that talent so much.

Thanks for sharing your day.
Take care,

Motherkitty said...[Reply]

Great! I'm sure it was a pleasure to listen to this author and learn more about his series of books.

This past Christmas we decided that instead of the usual frivolous presents that would be soon forgotten, we would give each other books. The idea really went over wonderfully and the kids loved it. So now everyone has a large pile of books to read, enjoy, and get through until next Christmas.

My daughter was given the complete Little House books and as an adult she read through them eagerly. They will be passed on to her daughters when they are old enough.

We should turn off the TVs and get library cards.

Reflection Through The Seasons said...[Reply]

Kerri Dear....
I've just dropped by to say thank you for the kind words you left for me. Of course you know all about trapped nerves don't you! and I'm pleased that you have found some reflief now. You suggested a chiropractor, unfortunately we don't have such facilities here. I did try an Osteopath, but found that was too brutal and I was left in agony. Anyway, painkiller medication has been topped up, so I'm trying to catch up with a bit of blogging whilst I have the chance. I'll keep in touch. Big Hugs - Marion