Jennifer Mason Stott is the Library Teacher at King Open School in Cambridge, and a recipient of a 2019 MA Super Librarian Award .
I have a secret: I don’t really like conferences. I get restless, the vendor floor is like a game of avoid-eye-contact pinball, and I just want to sit with a handful of librarians or authors and have long conversations. In the summer of 2018, I shushed my inner introvert and attended the School Library Journal Basecamp. It was worth the effort. When debut author/illustrator Oge Mora got to the mic and read her book Thank You, Omu! she lit up the room. I knew I had to have her visit my school, and I invited her that day!
Paige Rowse is the Teacher Librarian at Needham High School
and received a 2017 President's Award.
You are familiar with the magic that happens in libraries, from connecting voracious readers with undiscovered treasures to cracking the facade of an adamant ‘non-reader’. And yet, there is nothing quite like hosting an author in your library and watching students engage with the storytellers, further fueling the passion for reading. According to a study conducted by the Society of Authors, 99.4% of the schools surveyed concluded that having an author visit to the school was “invaluable enrichment that encouraged reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing…[with] ‘a profound and lasting impact’.” Beyond the benefits for reading and writing, students can get a glimpse into the mind of a professional researcher and have the opportunity to engage with a model of persistence and determination.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. MacLachlan last winter at the MSLA Annual Conference in Amherst, MA. I heard her and other local writers discuss their writing in a fascinating panel discussion right before I talked to her personally.
I had two general questions for her:
MacLachlan began by explaining that her writing has changed since she became legally blind; yet, she believes that all children yearn for reassurance and hope in their world, no matter when they were born. The important themes don’t change just because the world changes. MacLachlan continued to explain that through her writing, she wants to give children the warmth of family life and the hope of continued happiness in their lives, despite the ups and downs that all of them experience.
I mentioned that her novel White Fur Flying was a 2015 Nutmeg nominee, and that many of my students asked me to find out if the family in her book is modeled after her own family. She replied that she had a loving family and happy childhood, and that dogs continue to be a part of her life and her family’s lives.
We talked about her novel The Iridescence of Birds, the story of Henri Matisse’s childhood; she mentioned how important his mother was in shaping him into the artist of his adult life. I found her warm, intelligent, witty, and congenial; she shared her email address with me and told me that she would like to Skype with some of my students. It was a memorable time for me!
Mary Ellen Minichiello is the librarian at the Calf Pen Meadow Elementary School in Milford.