By Daryl Grabarek
School Library Journal | Curriculum Connections March 23, 2015
What does a whole-school author visit look like? P.S. 110 in New York City’s Lower East Side can tell you. Under the leadership of Principal Karen Feuer, the entire community gets involved when an author or illustrator comes to town.
On a recent wintery day, Kelly Light stepped into the New York City elementary school to be greeted warmly by Feuer, librarian Barbara Moon, art teacher Michelle Binderow, parent coordinator Millie Candelaria, and groups of parents and excited students, kindergarten through grade two. Lining the walls were pictures inspired by the author’s Louise Loves Art (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins, 2014)
During art class, the students were allowed to be “both Louise and Art,” reports Binderow. As “Louise” they made drawings using black oil pastels. They then exchanged drawings and as “Art” enhanced one another’s work using color oil pastels and watercolors.
One of the unique aspects of this author visit was the parent engagement. Binderow took parents on a tour of the students’ artwork, followed by an opportunity to create their own collaborative “masterpieces” during an onsite class designed specifically for them.
That message—to never give up on your dreams and that we can all can transform mistakes into masterpieces—resonated with both the children and adults in attendance. Many of the children talked about their goals in post-visit letters to the author, while one teacher said the visit encouraged her to make her dream of writing a book a priority.
Candelaria noted that for many of the parents meeting an author was a new experience, and since that day several parents have reported to her that they’ve been engaged in art projects at home with their children. Another parent, for whom English is a second language, was inspired to create her own art and write about it. As the parent coordinator commented, “You never know how something will impact a child or adult.” Indeed.