By Shelly Moody
The opportunity to meet an author is a magical event. Recently, Oakland students were fortunate to spend a day being inspired by Maine author, Lynn Plourde. As part of the annual One Book, One School tradition at Williams Elementary School, all of the classroom teachers read aloud Maxi’s Secrets (Or, What You Can Learn From A Dog) prior to Lynn’s visit. This beautiful book left many students and teachers in tears as the main character, Timminy, endured the loss of his beloved dog, Maxi. Although this book tugged on our heartstrings, our school community participated in many rich discussions centered around Maxi’s fifty-one secrets or life lessons.
When Lynn Plourde visited WES on April 11, she spent time explaining the research and process behind her first middle-grade novel. She also took the time to talk to students as writers by answering their thoughtful questions. When asked what they loved the most about our community reading experience, many students shared that they became attached to the book characters and loved practicing “blind talk” and learning sign language during our visit with Lynn.
In honor of Maxi, the students at Williams Elementary School participated in a community service project by collecting donations for the Waterville Humane Society. We kicked off our author visit with a whole school assembly to recognize the contributions of our school community. Diana from the Waterville Humane Society joined us to thank the students for their incredible collection of items, including pet toys, cleaning products, dog food and cat food. She even shared that a Great White Pyrenees, just like Maxi, had recently arrived at the Humane Society for adoption!
During the evening of April 11, Atwood and Williams Title 1 readers and their families were treated with a special evening event with Lynn Plourde. Lynn modeled an interactive read-aloud of her book Baby Bear Isn’t Hibernating for the audience. She also had the students perform a skit, complete with costumes and props, for her book Moose, Of Course, which was a huge hit with our families! Before the event, Lynn took the time to personalize a book for each and every one of the students in our reading program. Watching each child receive their autographed book and pose for a photograph with Lynn was a magical moment for the parents, the teachers, Lynn, and most importantly, our readers.
On Thursday, April 12, the teachers and readers at Atwood Primary were fortunate to spend the day learning with Lynn. During her kindergarten presentations, she shared the book Dino Pets and a model for students to write their own pet stories. First graders were treated to a read aloud of Grandpappy Snippy Snappies. Lynn taught them to search for word patterns and action patterns in stories. Finally, our second-grade writers worked with Lynn to craft their own collaborative story! Each grade level group participated in an interactive presentation that engaged students as readers and writers.
Our school funds are limited, but some of the best money we spent this year was to invite Lynn Plourde to spend the day with our students. As Mrs. Veilleux explained, “It was eye-opening for students to see how much work authors go through in order to get published and how many revisions have to take place. It really taught them how hard they have to work to make their dreams come true and if they keep on pushing they will eventually complete their goals!” The value of spending time with an author and the opportunity for our school to come together as a community of readers is priceless.