Wham! Bam! Zip, Zing, Zoom! Students and families at Central Elementary got to realize a dream come true when they met a real-life author - James Burks. Mr. Burks, an author and illustrator, spent a full day inspiring students and families at Central Elementary.
He made two presentations to students and signed copies of his books. The day was capped off with an evening community-wide event which featured another presentation and book signing.
The visit, as well as the purchase of additional reading materials, was funded by an Olathe Public Schools Foundation classroom grant.
The author visit is just a part of the school's larger plan to develop a lifetime love of reading and to increase school-wide daily independent reading.
“The biggest benefit is that our students want to read more. The halls and rooms are buzzing about which graphic novel they should read and of course, which author is coming next,” said Central Elementary Title I Reading Teacher Kim Currie. “At Central, we have definitely supercharged the reading culture at our school.”
Allowing students to meet and interact with an author can help to personalize the writing process and help students to realize regular people can write books. Hearing Mr. Burks speak about the writing process and his creative process helped generate excitement about books. That excitement was evident before Mr. Burks even arrived, with student art inspired by Mr. Burks' characters decorating the halls.
“Our students have never experienced anything like this before,” said Currie. “By bringing Mr. Burks to our school, it generated a powerful connection between our students and his writing and graphic creations. I’ll never forgot the moment when a kindergarten girl whispered in my ear, ‘I didn’t know the author was real.’ This experience has no end. It will be forever infused in their future story.”
Mr. Burks has written several popular graphic novels. Studies show that graphic novels can be effective in helping reluctant readers and ELL students learn to read. Graphic novels provide readers with lots of illustrations, reduced texts and motivating plots that peak students’ interest and investment in reading. This can be great for unmotivated and challenged readers who need to find enjoyment and success in reading.
Studies consistently show that the amount of free reading done outside of school directly relates to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency and general information.