Having an author visit with students and share about the writing process is a fantastic way to inspire them to write and enjoy reading in a new way. As part of the middle school’s Reading Appreciation Program, award-winning author and illustrator Yangsook Choi spoke to the middle schoolers on Tuesday, March 12.
During two workshops, Ms. Choi shared some life lessons while giving writing tips and showing a preview of her upcoming graphic novel. She explained that everyone has stories to tell, and they can express them with either words or images. Students were invited to think about their own lives and use the graphic novel format to illustrate a time when they were challenged. She gave many examples of how to convey different emotions in their stories. The students were excited to practice and demonstrate what they had learned. Students and staff alike were very attentive and engaged throughout the presentations.
A week later, on Tuesday, March 19, the 3rd-5th graders also had a visit from Yangsook Choi. She shared with the 3rd and 4th graders how she got started as an illustrator, and later, an author. She explained where the inspirations for her books The Name Jar and New Cat came from. The students learned that they could be inspired by the problems they have in their lives and turn them into stories, which is what Yangsook Choi did.
The 5th graders had a Writer's Workshop with Ms. Choi, and they were reminded of the elements of a great story. They were then able to take their thoughts and write them down to begin stories of their own. The students learned that even a professional author and illustrator has to make around 30 revisions before a story is ready to publish.
The last session with Yangsook Choi was with a group of parents who came to hear her story of how she began her career. Ms. Choi, who grew up in Korea and started drawing at age 4 and telling stories to her grandma, moved to New York to pursue her art. She reminded everyone that each child is given a gift or talent from God and that parents should encourage their children in these areas.