First-ever middle school author visit inspires students about writing creativity

Author talking to studentsMiddle school students had the opportunity to get tips and suggestions about how to unleash their writer’s voice in special workshops called “Ignite Your Inner Author,” part of the middle school’s first-ever author visit.

Tami Charles, a former teacher who now writes picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction for kids, presented workshops to sixth, seventh and eighth-graders and gave them an opportunity to learn more about the writing profession during her visit on March 18.

Encouraging students to dream big, improve writing confidence and be creative

students with author“Author visits encourage students to dream big,” said librarian Maggie Spicehandler. “They improve writing confidence and inspire students to be creative.  Tami Charles is an exemplary role model.  I am so proud of all of the middle school students that took the initiative to sign up for this special event.”

Ms. Charles’ middle school novel, “Like Vanessa,” earned Top 10 spots on the Indies Introduce and Spring Kids’ Next lists, three starred reviews and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her recent titles include the picture book biography, “Fearless Mary,” a humorous middle grade novel, “Definitely Daphne” with more books forthcoming.

Her workshops focused on the premise that everyone has a story to tell, but when it comes to writing it, questions and doubts can get in the way. How does a student write begin the process?

Ms. Charles offered tips and suggestions to inspire students to pursue their dreams of writing; encouraged reading for all participants; and encourage students to find their own voice in the reading and writing process. Included in the day was an opportunity for the 40 workshop students to join Ms. Charles for lunch and literary trivia.

Amazing, educational, engaging and inspiring

“This was our first author visit at the middle school and it couldn’t have gone any better,” said Mrs. Spicehandler. “It was a truly amazing, educational, engaging and inspiring experience for all who participated.  The students who attended came in prepared to learn and soak up all of the advice and knowledge that Ms. Charles had to offer.”

Mrs. Spicehandler added students even gave Ms. Charles pieces of their own writing. She promised to read them all.

Students said they enjoyed the opportunity to “meet with a real author” and were convinced her tips would help them with their writing skills.

“I like literature,” said Patricia Deslandes. “My friends and I are trying to jump start a (book) series just for fun.  It’s important to know how to write.”

Emily Arnott said she also had a passion for writing.

“What I hope to take away from today is that I can be a better writer,”  Emily added.

Additionally, eighth-grader Alex Norwood and seventh-grader Skyla Barnhart, two middle school newspaper reporters, had the opportunity to interview Ms. Charles for The Minisink Messenger.  Their story is scheduled to appear in its next issue.

“We have it recorded and may turn it into a podcast as well,” said Mrs. Spicehandler.

To see more photos, visit the district’s Facebook page: Minisink Valley Central School District.