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The write stuff

Local schools celebrate Author Day
By: Lauren Weber The Press-Tribune
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Students from three Granite Bay elementary schools celebrated the importance of reading and writing when they heard a real-life author speak at the schools' annual Author Day celebration held last week. Nonfiction writer Dorothy Hinsaw Patent, from Wyoming, was chosen to give students at Greenhills, Ridgeview and Eureka elementary schools a glimpse into the life of an author and what it takes to transform an idea into a book. It's a great opportunity to expose students to the process of writing in real life, said Heidi Dettwiller, principal of Eureka Elementary School. Before the arrival of Patent teachers introduced students to the author's stories as well as displayed many of the author's books at the school library. I think it's really important for kids to meet authors, Patent said. It gives them an extra motivation for reading. If you can't read, you are not going to get anywhere in this world. Cathy Vollmer, a coordinator for Author Day and mother of children at Eureka and Greenhills schools, said the purpose of the day is to emphasize to students that authoring a book is a possibility for them. It's also about highlighting the importance of their writing skills. It encourages the kids to read and it encourages them to write, Vollmer said. That concept was highlighted at each presentation Patent gave at the three schools. Many of the students at Eureka had copies of Patent's books ready to be signed before her first presentation. Following the book signing, each grade level ventured to the school gymnasium to learn about the process of book writing. Kyle Chickering, a Eureka sixth-grader, said he likes to read and write “ in fact, it's one of his favorite subjects. He said he especially loves reading stories with a focus on fantasy and adventure that are fast-paced. Chickering was one of the students with handfuls of books to be signed by Patent for Author Day. Patent said she enjoys creating children's books about nature and science with many animal subjects such as prairie dogs, humpback whales, bald eagles and polar bears, a passion that stems from her doctorate in zoology from UC Berkeley. I've always loved books about animals, she said, but she never knew she wanted to become a writer. She started writing more than 20 years ago and has authored more than 100 books “ each taking about a year to finish, she said. She's really quite interesting, Vollmer said of Patent. She has written over 130 books for children. The process of choosing an author for Author Day consists of collaborating with the school librarian to find what books students are checking out the most and Patent's books happened to be quite popular with the elementary-aged students. Dettwiller said most of the authors in previous Author Days have been fiction writers, so this year was slightly different for students. In addition to introducing the students to different types of literature, Dettwiller said the whole concept of being able to meet an author is something the students really seem to enjoy and look forward to with each presentation.