Kate Messner, the author of numerous children’s and young adult books, visited the Lower and Middle Schools today to speak to the students about writing.
The former middle-school teacher began her day with the Lower Schoolers, sharing how much she loved writing when she was their age. She also stressed that research is an important piece of writing and that writers should learn as much as possible about topics that interest them.
“The first story I ever wrote was about sharks when I was around nine years old,” she said. “I was so excited to go to the library and learn everything I could about them. Writing the story and doing the research were equally enjoyable and that still holds true today.”
The students were surprised to learn how much research Messner puts into her popular series Ranger in Time; a chapter-book series about a dog who travels through time to help rescue people. The stories have been set against the backdrop of the Oregon Trail, Ancient Rome, the D-Day invasion at Normandy Beach, and New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Messner took the time to travel to each location, and she shared pictures of these with the children, so that she could gather information and make sure her stories were accurate.
Messner wrapped up her Lower School presentation with a read-aloud activity based on her book How to Read a Story. Some students had a chance to stand next to her and speak in voices of the various characters, including a lion, a mouse, a knight and a dragon.
In the afternoon, Messner met with Middle School students, talking about how she chose a career in writing and where she draws inspiration from for her stories.
“Every single story starts with an idea,” she explained to the students. “It is like a light bulb over your head, and it is important to pursue that.”
Messner told the students how these ideas largely come from real-life experiences. Some of her novels, such as All the Answers, Over and Under the Snow and The Seventh Wish, were based on events that happened during her life.
The author finished up each session by sharing how many rough drafts she goes through in the months-long process before a story is finally complete. Understanding that even best-selling authors need to continually edit and revise is a great message for students and aspiring writers of all ages.