Children's Authors Talk to New Rochelle Students

Davis Elementary School invited two authors to talk to students about their craft.

Davis Elementary School students in New Rochelle were treated to two days of conversations with children's authors Tuesday and Wednesday.

Featured Tuesday—for kindergarten through second grade—was Helen Lester, who wrote the Tacky the Penguin series and Hooway for Wodney Wat.

Students in grades three through five got a presentation from Peter Lerangis, who wrote, among other titles, three of The 39 Clues series, two of which were best sellers: The Sword Thief and The Viper's Nest.

A select group of students were chosen to have lunch with Lerangis Wednesday. Over sandwiches, chips and dessert they chatted about family, relationships and growing up, with the author telling the students that he was the oldest child in his extended family and was therefore the one who had to babysit and tell the others what to do.

"I had to tell them stories and try to make them laugh," he said, admitting that it wasn't the easiest thing to do to entertain relatives.

Lerangis has written more than 160 books that have sold 4.5 million copies and have been printed in 28 languages.

He said he enjoys speaking with students because they are his demographic and the experience is "exhilarating." 

"It is good to actually converse with my audience," Lerangis said. "It's good to get into their mindset. And it's fun."

He said he uses the opportunities to speak at schools as a chance to confirm that his work is on the right track.

"And it gives me the language the kids are using," Lerangis said, which keeps his writing up to date.

Tyler Manley, 9, of New Rochelle, got to have lunch with Lerangis. The fourth grader said he was familiar with his books but had not read them yet.

"He's a very interesting guy," Manley said, adding that he would like to be an author.

"It sounds like a lot of fun to have kids enjoy what you are writing," he said, "and you get to travel a lot."

Davis School Reading Specialist Patricia Confalone helped prepare the teachers and the students for the authors' appearances.

"We gave them tips about talking about authorship," she said.

The act of writing was discussed, as was story structure and keeping the process fun, Confalone said.

"We wanted the children to realize that they are writers, too," she said.


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