WARREN, NJ - On January 23, Mt. Horeb School held its Author Day, as it has for over 30 years. Organized by School Library Teacher Christine Burkhardt, K-5 students were treated to presentations by two authors, Dan Gutman and Corey Rosen Schwartz. The goal each year is to celebrate reading and writing. Author visits expand upon students’ knowledge and understanding of the stages of the writing process, character development, and creative expression. The event never fails to get readers excited about books and different genres. “I have seen for years, how this event encourages even the most reluctant writer, to step outside of his or her comfort zone,” said Burkhardt.
“S-P-O-R-T-S, sports, sports” was echoed throughout the day, via the sights and sounds of Gutman’s presentation. Demonstrating their school spirit, students suited up in team jerseys. Gutman used his love of sports to generate excitement amongst the students about reading and writing. He explained how he had not been an avid reader as a youngster, but developed a love of sports around the age of ten. “I wanted to know everything about sports. Reading baseball cards, magazines, and biographies of my favorite athletes made me into a reader,” said Gutman. Many in the Mt. Horeb audience nodded in agreement. He took the children through all of the stages of the writing process, as well as publishing. Sharing some of his original manuscripts and early rejection letters drove home the point of perseverance; to do your best it takes time and dedication. The students enjoyed his comedic slideshow, “A Day in the Life of an Author,” and there was an unending stream of questions during the Q&A session.
During Schwartz’s presentation, there were looks of surprise on the students’ faces when she explained that writing was not her first career. She told them, “I have a Masters in Deaf Education. I love signing; ASL (American Sign Language) is a beautiful and fascinating language.” Schwartz talked about how writers brainstorm, and from where her story ideas grew. To begin her ninja series, she credits her son. During a conversation about languages, rather than mentioning something like Italian or French, he said he spoke “a little karate”, and thus the idea was born! With four books published, and three on the way, she decided to read The Three Ninja Pigs to the Mt. Horeb children. Students were able to participate interactively, while adorned with masks and props, by acting out parts from the fractured fairy tale. To further enhance the experience, Leo, Cora, and Jaime, from Frank Paul’s Impact Martial Arts studio, did a martial arts demonstration. They taught some basic moves, emphasizing the importance of respect, discipline, and self-confidence.
Additionally throughout the day, students were involved in a Writing Workshop session. Run by a variety of Mt. Horeb educators, the sessions involved different activities. Kindergarten worked on a sequencing activity, children in grades 1-2 wrote on the topic of friendship while incorporating specific evidence from film clips, and students in grades 3-5 analyzed song lyrics and dabbled in song writing.
Special thanks to Leo Sanchez, Cora Minadeo and Jamie Drescher, as well as to the Literacy Committee members at Mt. Horeb School and the Mt. Horeb PTO for their continued support.
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