To the delight of ASM's young readers, writers, and artists, the New York Times bestselling author Tad Hills was at ASM from Wednesday, November 14 until Friday, November 16.
This opportunity was made possible thanks to the Fund for Excellence, which allows teachers and staff to bring the extraordinary to ASM.
The American children's book author and illustrator first gained acclaim with the picture book Duck & Goose, a tale about an adorable odd couple that inspired a series of stories. Hills later wrote How Rocket Learned to Read, a popular picture book about a dog named Rocket – modeled after his own family pet – that gets kids excited about learning to read. It won the Irma Simonton Black & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature and also inspired a series of picture books and early readers.
ASM's elementary librarian, Angela Roberts, is the driving force behind the visit. "Tad and the library are connected on social media, through Twitter and Instagram. Last summer, I saw that he was traveling and working with a group in South Africa called Artworks for Youth. A former colleague of mine in Brooklyn runs the Artworks for Youth program so I messaged Tad to see if it was the same program and if we had the same colleague in common," she explains.
"I have been in love with the Duck & Goose books forever and love sharing them with our students, so I was happy to make the connection and arrange a visit to ASM, thanks to the Fund for Excellence," Ms. Roberts adds. The fund was created for learning opportunities and educational initiatives just like this one, that go beyond existing academic programs and are designed to inspire students.
To prepare for his visit, she read a selection of Hills' books to students during their library time and brainstormed questions that they would like to ask an author. "I have read his books to our students over the years so many of our older elementary students are already familiar with his work," she says.
As part of his visit, Hills gave presentations to each elementary school grade level, from the Early Childhood program up to 5th grade. He also offered individual writing and art workshops and work with Ms. Utter's Creative Writing class.
Click here to read more about ASM's Fund for Excellence.