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Students Engage With Visiting Authors

As part of its programming for youth, Humanities Tennessee supports creative writers and authors who visit elementary, middle, and high schools across the state, bringing programs to readers and discussion that invigorates the classroom and beyond. We connect educators and authors for events at their schools and when possible, provide a free copy of the visiting author’s book to each participating student, all thanks to grants from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Nashville Predators Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

This past spring we were delighted to bring Matt de la Peña to three high schools including the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center. You can read more about Matt’s visits here. This fall we were excited to bring Stephan Pastis to two elementary schools, and we closed out 2015 by providing books to a middle school in Clarksville for a visit from local favorite Kristin O’Donnell Tubb.

Educators often remark that these programs increase circulation in the library and that they hear the students talking about ideas sparked by the authors long after the event. About Stephan Pastis’s visit, a teacher shared this comment:

We have a couple of copies of each of his books in the library, and there are multiple students on waiting lists for each of them to check them out!  They are still loving him!  He captured their interest from the very beginning and they were highly engaged throughout his  presentation.  One thing that they really liked was when he showed how he draws his illustrations.  I saw students trying to draw his illustrations after the presentation and they are asking for his books in the library. We cannot keep them on the shelf!

Providing books for the students is a need that Humanities Tennessee is proud to meet. But Student Reader Day programs also enrich the work of the participating authors as well as students and educators. Kristin had this to say about her recent experience:

School visits inspire and energize - and not just the students! I walk away a better writer every time I get to meet readers. I love writing, but sometimes releasing a book feels like letting go of a balloon string and watching it rise into the sky. School visits allow writers to see where their stories land.

In 2015 Humanities Tennessee provided 1,970 books to students for Student Reader Day events. And we’re not slowing down! We already have three events planned for Tullahoma and Martin with Ruta Sepetys in January. Additional events will be planned for East TN later this spring.

If you’d like to learn more about Student Reader Days, please contact Lacey@HumanitiesTennessee.org.