Sarah Albee, the New York Times bestselling author of children’s books such as “Poop Happened! A History of the World From the Bottom Up” and “Bugged – How Insects Changed History” shared some of her trade secrets with Southold elementary students this morning.
Albee, who once worked in the book devision of Sesame Street and who has authored over 100 children’s books under several pseudonyms, visited several elementary classrooms, holding writer’s workshops and answering questions.
In Mrs. Mellas’ fifth-grade class, Albee spoke to the students about the importance of practice when it comes to good writing.
“I used to think that writers were born, that they had this magical talent. Not true.”
She told the students that just as it is with athletics or music, practice is what improves performance.
She said that one of her goals in wiring her non-fiction books was to write in a style that appeals to her middle school audience.
“You can read about George Washington on Wikipedia,” she told the students. “You can find out what year he was born, when he died. I have to find some kind of cool angle or write in a style that makes people want to read it.”
During the workshop, Albee guided the students through an exercise which had them acting as reporters, interviewing a partner and coming up with a catchy opening sentence for their article. She even supplied Harry Potter-style “reporter glasses” to help set the mood.
After a few minutes, the students shared their lead sentences with the class, with Albee giving them feedback on what they came up with.
A few opening sentences:
“If Kenny had a sister he would protect her, he would love her and cherish her.”
“‘Ow!’ yelled Brice. He just hit himself in the head with a soccer ball.”
“Imagine a house filled with pets, annoying brothers and yelling. Now imagine that, but three times more annoying. That is Jessie McGough’s house every day.”
“Can you believe that Logan once hung on a chandelier when he was four?”
Throughout the hour-long workshop, Albee gave the students feedback and encouragement, even telling them that she never thought she could be a writer until a professor told her that she was just as good as any of the others in her class.
Albee, who travels to schools throughout the Northeast holding assemblies and workshops, says that these author visits are the best part of her job.
“Meeting the kids I write for, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t. I love it.”
SoutholdLOCAL photos by Katharine Schroeder