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Reed Intermediate School Principal Anne Uberti introduced I Survived series author Lauren Tarshis to an assembly at the school on December 8 by telling her students, “We have such a wonderful presentation.”
Ms Tarshis, who lives in Westport, is also editor of Storyworks magazine, which is published by Scholastic. She spoke with students about her published books, her work with Scholastic, and how she became a writer. Reed library/media specialist Pia Ledina arranged the day’s visit.
Growing up in Westport, Ms Tarshis said, she would hear “type, type, type” from her father typing on a typewriter from morning to night. He was also a writer.
“I knew that my dad loved what he did,” said Ms Tarshis.
Ms Tarshis told the students how she spent years pretending she could read books. She could read words, but keeping track of pages of text proved difficult until she was in the ninth grade.She found, while reading The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, that rereading sections of text multiple times and writing in a notebook was her way of reading.
Ms Tarshis explained that she wanted the students to understand this about her, because writing does not come from a gift, which was what she learned from a visiting author at her school when she was a student. She remembers thinking, “I had no gift.”
Yet years later she would learn, from a meeting with author J. K. Rowling at Scholastic, that writing a great book means writing some bad books. The meeting bolstered her efforts, because, she reflected, she had already written a bad book. Writing, like other skills, also takes practice, she shared. Ms Tarshis reenacted her brief discussion with Ms Rowling with the help of student C.J. St. Louis, who acted the part of Ms Tarshis before the full school.
Ms Tarshis also discussed her process of researching and writing her I Survived books. Each book in the series, she explained, shares the story of someone who survived a historical event, such as the sinking of the Titanic. The books, she told the students, are all historical fiction.
During her visit to Reed she also spoke with students in the school’s library and signed copies of her books.
More information about Ms Tarshis and her books are available on her website, laurentarshis.com.