How do you stoke the fire in kids about reading and writing? Feed them great books. And get real live authors into the classroom, to get young learners thinking about stories and the writing craft of how to tell a story.
This September over 2,200 students participated in the Authors in the Schools program, which brought four award-winning Canadian authors to present their newest books to students from 16 schools in Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Lil’wat Nation. Local author Sara Leach presented her book Slug Days, and helped Grades 2 and 3 students make up a story on the spot.
Cary Fagan, author of Mort Ziff is Not Dead read to Grades 4 and 5 students and played from a mandolin he made with his own hands. Susin Nielsen captivated Grades 8 and 9s with her lively reading from her latest YA novel Optimists Die First, and Indigenous author Drew Hayden Taylor talked to Grades 11 and 12 students about his career trajectory and his book of short stories Take Us to Your Chief.
Five hundred and thirty copies of the authors’ books in total were purchased from our program supporter Armchair Books and given to classrooms up and down the corridor for schools to read, study and keep as a legacy for the future.
We would like to give hearty thanks to the teachers, teacher-librarians and principals for their support and commitment to this program. Stella Harvey is the founder and artistic director of AITS and entices authors from all over the country to meet the enthusiastic kids in our corridor.
Pat MacKenzie and Libby McKeever provide sage advice and volunteer assistance throughout the program. The AITS program is organized by the Whistler Writers Festival, and is generously funded by the BC Arts Council, Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, Province of British Columbia, Community Foundation of Whistler, Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium and the Whistler Public Library.
Our hope is that students who get to meet the award-winning, Canadian and Indigenous writers of the books they’re reading will not only be inspired to read and write more, but to tell their own stories.
Rebecca Wood Barrett, program manager,
Authors in the Schools
The Whistler Writing Society