Last trimester, Far Hills Grade 5 students wrote letters to authors who changed them as a person, reader, and writer. During this project, students discussed how choices individuals (characters, authors, students) make impact those around them. They discussed sending out good into the world in the form of gratitude. This project was also a wonderful way to reinforce and expand paragraphing and writing skills.
Our students have been receiving responses from the authors and are excited to share the correspondence.
One student reached out to Sharon Creech, author of Walk Two Moons. In her letter, she told Ms. Creech:
Dear Ms. Creech,
I am writing to you in regard to your amazing work, Walk Two Moons. It was first introduced to me when I was about 7 years old. When I first read it, I was in awe. I never knew that a book could change a person so much, but it truly did. Your book has changed my skills and style of writing, reading, and simply who I am.
Now, when I think of writing a story, my mind circles back to Walk Two Moons. I think about how I can use my character to enhance the love, joy, and happiness into the story, or even sorrow, sadness, or pain. Your book inspired me to try to understand the why and reason for a situation.
Now, when I read, I look for the little things that would make the book better for the reader. I look for similarities between your book and the one I am reading. It is my example when I read other books and stories.
She heard back from Ms. Creech—and received a signed headshot!
Another student wrote to Stuart Gibbs, author of The FunJungle series. In her letter, she spoke about perseverance:
Dear Mr. Gibbs,
The FunJungle series is a fantastic series and, even more than that, it is remarkable because it changed me. Your books inspired me as a person to persevere. They made me persevere because Teddy and Summer never gave up even if it was risky and not even to save themselves. It was to save the animals. I want to do that as a person too; it is important to me to always try to save animals. They also never gave up even when people doubted them. I made a connection to when I went to St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center, and I saw all of the homeless animals. I am currently saving up to donate. I want to make a change in the world. Even if I can’t do it now, I want to do it soon.
Mr. Gibbs wrote back:
I am very flattered to hear how much you and your family have enjoyed my books -- and I am extremely pleased to hear that you are writing books as well. Keep it up! I was writing books when I was your age. I didn't get published right away, but I kept at it and eventually, everything worked out. So I hope that you will become a published author as well someday.
Another student wrote to Amulet series author Kazu Kibiushi about how reading the book series helped him become a better reader:
Dear Mr. Kibuishi,
I have read every Amulet book; in fact, I recently finished the last one. Reading the series has made me a better reader overall. After I read Amulet I was better able to predict things because of the great storyline, I was able to predict things. This book allowed me to carry that strategy to other books I would read later.
Mr. Kibuishi liked hearing that!
I'm happy to hear that the Amulet books helped you to become a better reader. When I was young, I also read comics to accelerate my reading abilities and it led me to be a very prolific reader, something that continues to this day. I'm also glad that the book helped you be able to predict outcomes and make inferences. That's a very keen insight on the process of reading the material. I think with your awareness and kindness, you will do well. Thank you for sending me such a nice letter!
Another student wrote to Wendy Mass, author of The Candymakers about how the book changed her as a reader:
Dear Ms. Mass,
The Candymakers changed me as a reader because I have never read so many of one author’s books before. It was the second book of yours I’d read. I also wanted to read whenever I got a chance to, and this rarely happens to me. Some of the parts in the book were related table which was comforting to me. Some other times they weren't “relatable,” which made it fascinating.
And Ms. Mass was thrilled!
Thank you so much for your beautiful letter! I’m glad you said that about liking to read big books because when I was writing the first Candymakers book I was worried how long it was getting, and the sequel was even longer! I am really thrilled that you were affected by the book in the positive ways that you shared with me, definitely one of the reasons authors write books for kids is the hope that reading the story will affect them in lasting ways. I am with you, I would love to live inside a giant library, although I wouldn’t mind having a candy factory right next-door so the smell of cotton candy wafted through the library windows LOL. Keep reading and writing your own stories, I bet you’d be really good at it. Hope to “see” you next year as well .
All my best wishes,