Author Visits

Each year the 112 Education Foundation provides funding to each of the districts’ 11 schools to bring nationally known children’s/young adult authors to our students. The authors provide students with a window into their craft via school assemblies and classroom workshops with students.  Author visits provide powerful lessons in literacy.  Before the visits, the teachers and students read their books together and use them for lessons in reading and writing.  With an illustrator, students are able to study artistic styles and materials.  The students learn that behind each book is a real, live human being.   They hear the stories of their lives,  how they view the process of writing, and what inspires them.


This year’s Author Visits included a number of exciting programs.  At Indian Trail, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page visited students in April. They shared stories about unusual animal adaptations, showed short videos of some of these and showed students how they created their illustrations. According to Library Media Specialist Karen Grost, “You could have heard a pin drop because the kids wanted to hear and see everything this couple had to say and show.”  The authors also visited students at Braeside, Lincoln, Ravinia, Red Oak, Sherwood and Wayne Thomas.

Oak Terrace hosted Jennifer L. Holm, author of the Babymouse books, on May 4th.  Her presentation was very interactive, and she offered multiple opportunities for students to help her draw as well as a short readers theatre. The students learned about the graphic novel writing/drawing process as well as information about Ms. Holm’s life.  “Students and teachers described this as one of the best author visits yet,” according to Library Media Specialist Kara Smith.  Ms. Holm also visited students at all District elementary schools.

In the fall of 2016, Adam Rubin, author of Dragons Love Tacos, visited several schools in the District.  At Red Oak, he enthralled the students with his books and humor in a very interactive presentation.  “The children continue to ask for his books, said Library Media Specialist Kate Hancock-Strong.  Adam also visited Sherwood School where he did two presentations for K-1 and 2-3.   According to Library Media Specialist Helen Weiss, “His presentation kept the students highly engaged and was very interactive.  After his presentation, he discussed a bit about his life and then went through the writing process with the kids. He also read his newest book, Robo-SauceHe created an original story with each group based on student suggestions and a few lucky volunteers got to act it out!  He ended with a Q&A session with each group.”  In addition, Adam visited Braeside, Lincoln, Oak Terrace, Ravinia and Wayne Thomas.


In 2013, the 112 Education Foundation expanded the author visit program by sponsoring a district-wide author/storyteller event.  The intent is to continue the district-wide program biennially.

In September 2013, the 112 Education Foundation brought world reknowned storyteller Donald Davis to Highland Park.  Mr. Davis has been featured at the World’s Fair, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Storytelling Festival, and as guest host on NPR’s “Good Evening.”   For Donald, who was born and bred in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains rich in tradition and family values, storytelling is a way of giving and living life. He invites each listener to come along, to pull deep inside for one’s own stories, to personally share and co-create the common experiences that celebrate the creative spirit.   According to Mr. Davis, “storytelling “is not what I do for a living…it is how I do all that I do while I am living.”

During his 3 days in Highland Park, Mr. Davis performed for all 4th through 8th grade.   He also conducted a storytelling workshop at the Highland Park Public Library for those interested in learning the basics of storytelling.  The highlight of his visit was an evening performance which was open to all members of the community.  In addition to many local families, storyteller aficionados came from all over the Chicago area to hear Mr. Davis weave his magic with words.  Donald Davis had the entire audience captivated.  Heads nodded in understanding as he described canned peas and carrots from his childhood and people laughed over and over again as he relayed stories of his youth.  When Donald finished to a standing ovation, adults in the audience recognized the need to share their stories and their parents’ and grandparents’ stories with their own children.