Three Cheers for Peru Intermediate Readers!

I spent part of Friday afternoon celebrating with Peru Intermediate School 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to mark the end of their big reading incentive month.  While reading is always important, Peru decided to give it some extra attention in May by asking kids to set personal reading goals.  (I set one, too, and finished my 8th book just last night!)  And I wasn’t alone in meeting my goal – check out all these successful readers!

I loved the way the school celebrated.  Since their theme for the month was Lake Champlain, they created a lake in the front hallway and gave each class a ship.  When students met their goals, they put their photographs on the ships and signed them.

The school also gave away 30 copies of SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE in a drawing for students who met their goals.  By the end of the afternoon, my voice was hoarse from cheering, my hand was tired from signing, and my head was full of great book suggestions from these awesome readers. 

Congratulations, Peru kids!!  I hope you find just as many fantastic books to read over the summer.  If you need some new suggestions, here’s the latest ALA Notable Books list with plenty  of great choices.  Happy Reading!

Celebrating Children’s Book Week at Peru Intermediate

I spent my Children’s Book Week Wednesday at an extra-special school visit. All this month, the kids at Peru Intermediate School are reading my Lake Champlain historical novels, Spitfire and Champlain and the Silent One with their teachers, while they read other books at home to work toward meeting personal reading goals for the month.  Today, I gave presentations to the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes.

Here are some very enthusiastic third graders.

The kids all had terrific questions, and when I left the presentation area, I found a surprise…

Hallways with beautiful student artwork, inspired by Spitfire and Champlain and the Silent One!  This is one of the things they don’t tell you about when you are about to have a book published…how some day, you’ll be walking down a school hallway and see the scenes you wrote brought to life in color by amazing young artists.  This has happened to me a few times now, and every time, I fight back tears. (Good ones… so thanks, Peru kids!)

This illustration shows a scene where some of the members of Silent One’s tribe are sick from eating flesh from an old pig carcass they found at the French settlement.  My favorite part? Silent One’s speech bubble… "I told you not to eat the meat."

After my two morning presentations, it was time for a luncheon in the library, where I ate cookies, talked with kids about their favorite books, and signed lunch napkins and books (most that I had written and one that I didn’t, but its owner insisted that I sign anyway).  Really, lunch time doesn’t get much better than that.

I’m looking forward to one more visit to Peru Intermediate at the end of this month, when we’ll be celebrating meeting our reading goals and giving away books.  For now…it’s time for me curl up with tonight’s reading.  I still have three more books in my pile to reach my goal!

Happy Reading, Peru Intermediate School!

May just might be my new favorite month.  Not only are my tulips about to burst into bloom, but it’s also Reading Celebration Month at Peru Intermediate School. I’m their guest author, which means I get to spend time talking books with a crew of excited kids who love to read. 

This poster in the front hallway made me smile.  I’m so glad I could visit on an outdoor recess day! 

What could be better?  More than 500 enthusiastic Peru kids were at the assembly where I spoke this afternoon to kick off their May reading extravaganza.

Note: That’s not me up front.  It’s Mr. Storms, the principal of Peru Intermediate, who chose David Wisniewski’s GOLEM as his favorite book for the faculty/staff slideshow.  This is, in my book, solid evidence that he is a very cool principal.

I love how this school has set up its reading incentive program, making room for all kinds of readers.  Students are meeting with their teachers to decide on their own individual reading goals.  When they meet their goals, which they can choose to make public or keep private, they get to put their names up on one of these way-cool ships in the front entrance display.

Why ships?  The theme for this year’s reading incentive program is Lake Champlain. Since my historical novels are set on the lake, all of the classes are reading at least one of them.  I’ll be spending a full day with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders later on this month to talk about the research and stories behind Spitfire and Champlain and the Silent One.   They’ll also get a super-sneak preview of my new book, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z (Walker, Fall ’09), which is set near the lake in modern times.

Today, though, it was all about the reading.  After a slideshow of their teachers’ favorite books, I talked about some of my favorites, past and present.  We talked about how books let us travel through time, show us ourselves, and bring us together. And I shared my own reading goals for the month of May.  I’m planning to read a mix of picture books, poetry, novels for younger kids, high school novels, and books for adults.

Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon
by Jeannine Atkins (I have a shiny new, signed copy from the NESCBWI Conference!)
Masterpiece by Elise Broach (I’ve been wanting to read this for ages – can’t wait!)
Border Songs by Jim Lynch (I loved his novel The Highest Tide and was happy to pick up this advance copy of his latest.)
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry (I read an early draft of this book and can’t wait to dig into the final version!)
Bug Boy by Eric Luper (Is it cheating that I’ve already started reading this ARC?  I was going to save it, but it just didn’t work out.)
Nine Horses by Billy Collins (This is the book of poetry that I was so excited to find on the library book sale cart for fifty cents.)

I’ll be sure to post some thoughts as I finish each one.  And if you’re a Peru student reading this…know that as I work my way through my pile of books, I’m cheering for you to meet your goal, too!