Book Fair Connects Love of Reading With Writing

“Found Words, Found Worlds,” the theme of this year’s Middle School Book Fair held April 10-12, was a nod to space exploration, the recent solar eclipse and the books by award-winning authors Janae Marks and Lesley Younge.
“In this age of AI I feel proud that we are elevating physical books and highlighting authors with a passion for storytelling,” said Tasha Elsbach, head of middle school.

Author Janae Marks’ debut novel, “From the Desk of Zoe Washington,” is about 12-year-old Zoe, an aspiring pastry chef, who through exchanging letters, discovers that her imprisoned father may be innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted. Marks held two writers’ workshops on campus for middle school students.

During her visit to the School, Lesley Younge hosted two poetry workshops. Her book, “Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself,” takes Equiano’s own words from his 18th-century autobiographical memoir and arranges them into poetry form. 

“The writing workshops dovetailed beautifully with our writing curriculum,” said Jennifer Rathkopf, middle school humanities teacher. “Janae Marks helped students craft interesting, flawed characters and think through the plot arc to create narrative ideas. Lesley Younge took writers through a variety of practices to find and look for the poetry in our lives. I did learn more about ekphrastic poetry from Ms. Younge, and will be bringing that choice into the culminating sixth grade Hudson River projects.”

Seventh grader Waverly Beckwith ’29 attended both workshops and said she loves to write. “It was a great experience to hear from authors to learn more about the creative side of writing which I’m interested in,” she said.

“I feel that it's important to know the process behind writing some people's favorite books and understand what being a writer is like,” said eighth grader Xingya Wang ’28 who enjoyed the authors’ presentations. “I love books and l love to read.”

Book Fair organizer Jillian McCoy, head librarian and coordinator for digital information and learning, noticed that students took home lots of new books. “I know murder mysteries have been very popular lately and the Fair certainly proved that to be true with purchases of many Karen M. McManus and Holly Jackson books.”

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