Ellie Rumney is a library media specialist extraordinaire from Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Her heartfelt post gave me goosebumps. Yes, small moments can provide endless inspiration. Thank you, Ellie!
Connecting with Authors – Bringing Literacy to Life
by Ellie Rumney
The joyful faces of student connecting an author to a book is a priceless sight.
On one regular day in April, ninety 1st graders sat enthralled as published author, Jean Reidy shared her inspirations and ideas with students in Rhinelander, Wisconsin from her home in Colorado. Student faces were alight as the author, who had written the books they had been reading in class, shared her inspiration for one of her books, Time Out for Monsters. They gasped with excitement when she let them in on the secret to her upcoming books scheduled for release in the near future.
Students asked questions that helped them understand the writing and publishing process. They connected to Ms. Reidy as she brought the books she had written to life. They learned that even a professional writer has to go through many edits and revisions to get a completed piece of work. This Library Media Specialist had goosebumps watching the children’s engagement through the entire experience!
Reading and literacy are vital elements of our children’s education, and students are immersed in materials that allow them to embrace the world of words around them. Much of the time, authors are an abstract name connected to books the students are enjoying. Allowing students to meet and connect a face to a name through an author visit both in person or via internet teleconference is a vital connection between the abstract and the concrete. When students can connect the name to a face, they can understand that it is a real person behind a published piece of work. This in turn inspires students to be readers and writers, as they can understand that the people behind the work aren’t magicians and writing isn’t an impossible task. As students meet authors, they can hear the author’s voice in the piece of literature they are reading and connect the story to a part of that author’s life. They are inspired to write after hearing an author talk about the process of writing and how it begins small for even the most accomplished authors.
After meeting Jean Reidy, teachers talked to their students about making connections and writing about their own small moments. One teacher said, “As writers, we want to emphasize the students writing about small details in their stories. Jean Reidy’s Time Out For Monsters is about her childhood experience of being in a time out.” Hearing a published author share her inspiration for writing a story about a small moment in her life has allowed the students to see that writing is not as scary or intimidating as they may feel or think it is. Connecting to the small moments that authors use for inspiration makes reading and writing more accessible to students.
That regular April day became a memorable and inspirational experience for one lucky group of 1st grade students. They left with the understanding that real people are behind their beloved books. They left with inspiration that they too can be authors of small moments. Author visits such as these are an exciting way to open the eyes of a child and make the world of literacy more accessible and connected to their lives.
Ellie Rumney taught for 12 years before becoming a Library Media Specialist for the School District of Rhinelander. As a teacher, she was passionate about integrating technology and 21st Century Skills into her classroom. Her journey to become an LMS gave her access to an amazing learning network of professionals that she relies on in the current educational climate. As a Library Media Specialist, she continues to share her enthusiasm for 21st Century learning and information literacy with teachers and students in the classrooms and libraries.