One of my fondest memories of my early teaching career is the day I met Rick Riordan. Our school had won the membership contest for International Reading Association, and our prize was a guest author visit. Rick Riordan had already written several novels for adults, and his new book, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, was about to be published!
Now, of course, Percy Jackson is a major series, has been a motion picture, and is loved by middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults everywhere (or many places, anyway).
I believe in authors sharing their writing process with kids; encouraging them to write and read; discussing the challenges of revision; sharing where inspiration comes from. Because of this, we try to have at least one guest author each year to hopefully inspire our students.
Yesterday, we were absolutely blessed to have a lovely children’s author, Donna Munoz, come and share her writing and her process with our kids! I sat in on the fifth grade presentation and listened to her story about being the first person in her family to attend college, overcoming challenges, and loving her career as a teacher and a writer.
Her book, Harley Farley’s First Halloween, is available on Amazon in paperback and for the kindle. You can grab it here:
It’s an adorable story about a zombie named Harley Farley who sleeps in a bunk bed in Eddie’s room at the top of the stairs! Eddie finds him one Halloween night and decides to take him trick-or-treating. It was really enlightening for the kids to hear about where the inspiration came from for certain details in the story; why Eddie’s “plan” looks like a football playbook, whose idea it was to include fried chicken in the story, and why the message of acceptance is so important.
Donna wrote the story collaboratively with her three sons around the dinner table!
An important moment (I always enjoy it) was when Donna shared her document of the story with edits. Students are always surprised to see that “real” authors revise. It’s such a valuable lesson to help kids think about their own writing work.
Donna also shared the first page of her upcoming middle school book, A Jar Full of Butterflies, a story about two sisters who have to move from Mexico to Texas and must find themselves here in America. This is a story many of our children know well from personal experience.
She encouraged our kids to find something they care about and work through their challenges. What a great message!