Video Chat Piques Interest in Reading, Writingby Steve Vedder
Jaxson Wilder isn't sure he will ever become an author, but at least he now has an idea of what it takes.
Jaxson and his fellow fifth-graders at Cummings Elementary were able to ask questions via Skype with California-based children's author Jill Diamond, about her recent book "Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery."
Cummings students peppered Diamond with a range of questions, from how she chose her characters' names to where she gets her inspiration and how she weaves real-life locations into her books.
The discussion left Jaxson, who said he leans to fantasy and superhero themes, intrigued by what it would be like to become an author.
"It inspires me to keep going and writing instead of playing video games," he said. "I like putting words on a page and writing about personal experiences. This was interesting to me."
The video chat was a joint effort of the school district and Kent District Library. Youth librarian Katie Lawrence said she shared the book with students during a recent school visit. She tweeted about the experience and the author wound up contacting her.
"Outreach is big with KDL," Lawrence said. "We're always looking for ways to team up with schools. This was something we were fortunate enough to be able to share with them."
Cummings teacher Kyle Anderson said his students discussed the book's plot line, in which unexplained crimes pop up in a neighborhood, and reviewed the book's characters to prepare to ask Diamond questions. He said the chat was part of his "supply and demand" philosophy of getting students to increase their reading.
"You present options," Anderson said. "You pick a book and try to get the kids to all want it. One thing you do is rely on peer pressure. Kids will help build each other's enthusiasm. They understand that you can go places with a book."
Kent District Library