By Shana LiVIGNI
“The Assistance League of Glendale brings the authors and illustrators of the books children read every day and the kids get to meet them, which is exciting, and they learn how to have a career as writers,” explained ALG member Danette Erickson. “Some of the authors will tell [the students] about how they send what they think is a wonderful story and the publishers will send them back with all these red marks on it, just like in their classrooms.”
In the days preceding the visits by the authors and illustrators, Assistance League members visit classes to read selections from the authors’ books to the children to familiarize them with the author and illustrator they will meet. The school library is given signed copies of all books published (in print) by the presenters. In addition, one book is given to each classroom. A much-appreciated gift of $1,500 for purchasing more books is given to the school library. A book sale and book signing began after school.
Mary Ann Fraser, illustrator of the “I.Q.” books and others, visited the kindergarteners and “cooked up” a recipe for a story. Wearing a red chef’s hat, she brought out a box containing “all-natural settings,” a can of “problems” and another box of “presto main characters,” each containing pieces of papers with names of all three “ingredients.” Several of the students got to pick a paper from all three containers to put together an entertaining story on a storyboard she brought along.
Illustrator Marla Frazee, daughter of an ALG member, has been active in the Authors and Illustrators Day for years. She visited the third graders and did a slide show that began with her very first drawing of a cat when she was 2 years old. The slide show continued with pictures of her and her drawings as she got older and told her story of wanting to be an illustrator. The kids were mesmerized by her personal photos, drawings and life story.
Lisze Bechtold is an author and illustrator with an affinity for writing stories about dogs. She told the second grade class how important it was to know your characters in the stories you write. Asking for class participation, she drew a character that had the body parts voted on by the kids. The final drawing had the roomful of students, and the teacher, laughing and applauding at their work.
Sixth graders were visited by author Mark London Williams who had a different type of writing job. Besides books, he also wrote the stories behind the earlier video games, as a storybook that came with the game. He told the students that he would watch the video games and make up a story to go with the action. They urged him to read one of his action stories from the“Raptor” video game and he read it as if he was actually those characters in the game.
Authors and Illustrators Day began in 1997 by the Assistance League of Glendale to inspire children to read and write. All 20 elementary schools in the Glendale Unified School District have been visited three times since that date. Five schools are visited each year. Currently, over $240,000 has been spent by Assistance League promoting literacy and enriching reading in the Glendale community. For more information, visit them online at www.alglendale.org.