I was thrilled when I discovered a few months ago that a high school in Canada had picked Starters as their read of the year!
When I told my publisher in Canada, Random House Children’s Books, they arranged to bring me out there. I made a short video for the students to see when they announced the book choice to the student body in April.
Then everyone – 1100 students, teachers and administrators, all read the book at the same time – approx 2 1/2 weeks, turning their entire school into one big book club. Some went on to read Enders as well.
At the end of April, I flew out there for an incredible day. It started with an assembly with everyone in the gym. Several people spoke about this wonderful program that encourages reading for pleasure. Then I gave a short talk and PowerPoint presentation so they could get a glimpse of the context of the book, including the foreign covers and the European tour.
The art dept got involved, making posters to welcome me.
Following the presentation in the gym, there was a reception with teachers and administrators, the student committee that chose Starters, and the wonderful donors responsible for this program.
An artist donated a lovely piece of artwork to a couple of us.
Me with the main sponsor whose firm donated the cost of the books so the students did not have to pay for them. The world needs more book angels like this!
This chic lady to the left is the principal. I loved her style!
It was really fun talking with the student book selection committee. I only wish I had more time with them. But…
There was a signing planned! (I couldn’t believe they had peacock feathers, I happen to love peacock feathers).
Love these posters they made.
So the signing took hours and I’m very grateful to the teachers who helped organize and get the post-its in the books.
Everyone was so patient. You can’t see the end of the line, it snakes around, outside the room.
I loved meeting each and every student.
These four girls were so lovely. I told them, as I told many of the students who were reading Enders, to write me when they finish.
After a lunch break, I gave two workshops. The first one focused more on the books and the second one more on writing. These were smart students who had excellent questions.
It was great hearing some of the students read their work in the writing workshop. It takes courage to read in front of a crowd. My goal was to leave everyone inspired. I took this very seriously, because I know artistic types don’t always get encouragement. My message to them was to read, write and work hard and don’t let any rejections get you down, because every creative person has to work through them. The successful ones are the ones who keep on going (much like Callie).
I heard later that a writing group was formed in between my two workshops, which made me very happy.
This is the most complete photo we have showing the students holding the book in front of their faces. We actually had even more people than this who read it as the teachers and administrators are not in this shot. So amazing to think that all these people read Starters at the same time. And no one gave away any spoilers!
This was an incredible day, one of the most memorable since Starters was first published. I thank everyone who worked very hard to make this happen. Vice-Principal Christina and her team were so thoughtful, from the welcome gift basket to our farewell dinner. Jennifer, Christopher, Betty, Lori, and Susan, thank you. Thanks to my publisher, Random House, for sponsoring the tour. Special thanks to my wonderful friends Sara, Darren and Zevff, for taking the photos and being my support. I loved meeting every student and teacher and administrator — you all were fantastic.