Celebrating: Dan Gemeinhart

This week, I overheard, “Why are books so much better when a teacher reads imgresthem?”

It’s not the teacher that makes the magic. It’s something about reading a great book together.  The anticipation. The excitement. The thinking.  Everyone’s on the same page. On the journey. We ache for and sometimes hate the characters. We want to read on, but we don’t want it to end. That was how my students felt about our read aloud Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart.

The only thing better than reading this book happened yesterday when we had the honor of a Skype visit with the talented and generous Gemeinhart.

Sixty-four children sat in a darkened classroom captivated.  Crowded on the carpet, around the computer, and at desks, they listened. One by one, students would come to the computer and say, “Hi my name is… and I was wondering… how…”

Gemeinhart took each question and answered. Reader to reader, writer to writer. I listened and watched my students. Smiling. Some students took notes. What they wrote was not only a record of the visit but a picture of what each child took in.

On reading:

He was one of those kids who read all the time. Books inspired him to read a little too much. His parents would tell him to stop reading.

He moved around a lot as a kid. Always moving to new houses, new schools and leaving friends. But libraries were always there, filled with books.  When life changed, he had books to keep him company.

Books are like friends. He could always count on books. They stayed with him the longest.

He reads and loves all kinds of books.  Two to three a week!!  There isn’t a favorite there are hundreds of favorites.

Books feel like magic.

On writing:

When he was in the second grade he knew he wanted to try to write.

There a lot of ways to become a writer.

Ideas for writing come from a mix of things. Your brain must be going and ideas come together. Characters come from people in your life but not just one person.

Names of characters are tricky. They have to sound and feel right.

Sometimes stories start with the plot and sometimes with the theme–like I want this to be a story about someone overcoming trouble. And sometimes  it starts with the character.

The messages he delivered will stay with my students. These quotes will live on the classroom walls.

Books are friends.
Stories are amazing.
There are lots of ways to become a writer.

This week I celebrate writing rock stars like Dan Gemeinhart for writing books to love and sharing the love of reading.

Read other celebrations on here. Thank you, Ruth, for a place to share the joys of the week.



11 thoughts on “Celebrating: Dan Gemeinhart

  1. So pleased to see that your students really enjoyed this title. I am considering it for my next read aloud. I think Gemeinhart is extremely talented. Thank you for sharing your students’ take aways. I always learn so much from student voices.

  2. What a great experience for your students, and you too, both the read aloud and skyping with the author. Memorable messages.

  3. I can’t wait to share this experience! Dan sounds like such a personable and easy-going guy. His words are wise. I’m sure they will live in your students’ hearts.

  4. Loved this book! It’s on our Mock Newbery 2017 possibilities list. I love that you had this writing group to discuss how to teach this book in your classroom. Teacher driven learning rocks!

  5. Julieanne, it is wonderful to have a writer in the middle of your classroom speaking on a personal level with your students. Dan Gemeinhart’s words will stay with them as they grow their writers’ lives.

  6. Children love being read aloud too, even once they’re a bit older and their a bit too embarrassed to admit it. I remember visiting older classes and watching them roll their eyes when I pulled out a book, only to hang on to every word and whine when it was time for me to finish! I love that you were able to share this experience with your students – being able to hear an author talk about their work is a magical experience.

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