Your fearless editor, letting nothing stand between her and second graders, markers, and picture-books, will be heading around the block to the Mid-Manhattan library every Monday lunchtime for the next 6 weeks for Everybody Wins! NY’s Build-a-Book Program. Everybody Wins! is a non-profit that combines the power of books and mentorship in their Power Lunch program, in which corporate volunteers go to a nearby school one day a week at lunchtime. The volunteer is assigned one “Reading Buddy” for the whole school year, and every Power Lunch day, they get together and read together, anything they want, basically any way they want. As you might guess, it is awesome.
But what about when school’s out? When the summer slide happens and kids can fall below grade reading level? No Power Lunch then. That’s where Build-a-Book comes in.
I’ve got such a huge crush on Build-a-Book because it’s not only about reading, it’s about getting kids to fall in love with books from the inside out, and to appreciate the people behind them. And what’s my career in book business about if not that? Build-a-Book was conceived this year by Kristin Sinclair, a Program Coordinator at EW! NY as a Power Lunch Booster for 2nd and 3rd graders in Midtown and Harlem. It’s six weeks of matching volunteers from nearby companies with pint-sized buddies, talking to authors and illustrators and editors, oh my, and best of all, making books together.
Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark and Grimm, basically blew up the “stage” on Week One, talking about how an author creates characters and settings with sensory descriptions. He read from his book, handed out signed copies to the kids, had us all in stitches and…basically, I want to book him for my next birthday party.
My Buddy, Avia, is a towering intellect at 4′ nothing”. After the presentations (this week by a creative writing teacher), we sit and work on our book together. Right now we’re breaking down the story into chapters. Avia’s making sure to remind me that we have to keep character motivation in mind (I mean: for real). Our heroine, Angelina, has thus far disembarked from her peanut-butter scented rocket ship onto a strange planet where she saw aliens dancing and heard some very catchy music. But the second she steps out on the “cushiony” ground, the aliens turn off the music and stop dancing. Both you and I will have to wait with suspense to find out about the character motivation behind that move.
…stay tuned for updates on Angelina, Aliens, Avia, and me…(next week: illustration!)