Author visits Creekside

Published 9:31 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

During a visit to Creekside Elementary School, author and former librarian Jacqueline Jules explains her newest book, “Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation,” to a group of fourth-graders during their library class. Jules said her main goal when she visits schools is to get children excited about reading.

As a former librarian, Jacqueline Jules is no stranger to being in front of a group of students, but she took on a different role when she came to Creekside Elementary School’s library Monday.

Jules visited as an author and poet when she talked to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Creekside about her book, “Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became One Nation,” and the writing process.

Jules, who has written 22 books, said she hopes her school visits ignite excitement for reading in the students.

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“I’m an author, but in my heart, I’m a school librarian first,” she said. “As a librarian, you want nothing more than to get kids excited about reading.”

During her Creekside visit, Jules, who lives in Northern Virginia, talked about how she was inspired to write “Unite or Die” by a play she wrote for her students that taught them about the Constitutional Convention before reading some of the book.

While she read the narration, Jules invited the students to read the dialogue in the book that discussed the main issues at the convention.

“When I wanted to write ‘Unite or Die,’” she told the students, “I wanted to catch the drama of the formation of the Constitution.”

Jules added she thinks the book is especially helpful for Virginia third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students because it relates to what they are learning in U.S. history.

Creekside media specialist Kim Richardson said she invites authors to visit the students because it brings reading to life for them.

She asked Jules to talk to individual classes instead of in front of an auditorium of students so the children could have more personal experiences, Richardson said.

“It’s more one-on-one, and they can ask more questions,” Richardson said. “She could talk to every student if she wanted to.”

While Jules talked to three Creekside classes in person, her visit stretched even further across Suffolk through videoconferencing.

Students at Driver, Elephant’s Fork, Kilby Shores, Northern Shores and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools all had the opportunity to watch Jules’ discussion because of the system.

In addition to talking about her book, Jules talked to the students about her writing process.

She compared the way authors write books to their own writing assignments from school, telling them she has to write more than one draft like they do, and she has an editor who gives her instructions like a teacher does.

Jules said she wants the students to realize the processes are not that different.

“They think the writing process they go through is so different,” she said. “When they hear about that, it gives them encouragement.”

Jules added she always likes visiting schools because she loves being around the students.

“I’m grateful to be able to connect with the kids,” she said. “It’s all about getting the kids excited about reading.”