For several years, the Graduate Reading Program has given educators and students the unique opportunity to come face to face with well-known literary composers through its annual Young Adult Author Series (YAAS). Richard Peck, a John Newberry Medal winner, will be the featured guest in the upcoming series which will take place on Feb. 6-7.
“Authors come in, they’re all young adult authors; so they write books geared towards middle school age children,” said Emily Cook, a graduate student and YAAS assistant coordinator. “They tell about their background, their writing experiences, and they share about their books.”
On Friday and Saturday attendees will be engaged by the speaker through presentations and writing workshops. According to Cook, there is a registration fee of $20 for students and $125 for teachers. All registered attendees will receive dinner Friday night and breakfast Saturday morning along with a packet full of information on the speaker. All students and staff are encouraged to attend.
“Anybody in education or really anybody who ever wants to be a parent (should go) because this is a great opportunity to encourage any child that you come in to contact with to be a better reader or writer,” Robin Stripling said, a Harding alumna and adjunct professor. “One of my friends who goes is a retired teacher — she still goes just because it’s fun.”
In past years, the YAAS has welcomed many award-winning authors including Rick Riordan, who wrote the children’s series “Percy Jackson & the Olympians.” Some of the authors sign books, allow time for photos, answer questions and do book pairings.
“There have been many wonderful authors that I’ve enjoyed meeting,” Betty Watson, distinguished professor of Children’s Literature, said. “One of my personal favorites was Jacqueline Woodson, an outstanding writer who shared several of her excellent children’s books with the teachers and students who were present.”
Several successful authors have visited Harding through YAAS, but Cook said none of them let their success get to their heads.
“As a coordinator and a student it’s been neat to see how down to earth authors are,” Cook said. “They’re not held up on a pedestal, but they’re actual people and so its been great getting to meet them and find out really who they are.”
Cook said the idea of the YAAS is to plant and grow the interest of readers and writers, but especially teachers and prospective teachers.
“They are the models to show children how exciting and important it is to read,” Watson said.
Steve Sheinkin will do a follow-up series on March 6-7, and Roland Smith will close this year’s series on April 17-18. More information on these and future events can be found at www.harding.edu/ education/authorseries.