Kwame Alexander has written 32 books, which while impressive enough on its own is nothing compared to the energy he brought to the Eliot Chapel this week. He met with Middle School students Monday morning, talking about his work and sharing some of his poems while accompanied by his singer/songwriter/guitarist friend Randy Preston. Mr. Alexander has a middle school daughter, and it’s clear he knows exactly how to relate to that audience.
Middle School Librarian Annie Tsai Gomez said, “What an honor and treat it was to have him on campus! His presentation was incredible, and teachers and students alike were heard saying, ‘Best author visit we’ve ever had!’ His energy was contagious and immediately grabbed kids’ attention.”
Each year, MICDS brings an author to visit with Middle School students. Ms. Tsai said, “Having students meet authors is an incredibly powerful thing–it makes it so that the books our children read are connected to someone who is real and human, going through ups and downs just like them. It provides students with the chance to meet a “celebrity,” while simultaneously learning about what goes on behind-the-scenes of writing, editing, and publishing a book. It gives students the opportunity to see that writing a book, though incredibly rewarding and impactful in its end result, is a long and arduous journey that takes perseverance, hard work, resilience, and believing in yourself.”
To ensure students are familiar with visiting authors’ works, one of their books is assigned for summer reading. Often, students fall in love with the writing and by the time the author arrives on campus, they’ve read multiple books!
Mr. Alexander was no different, and our Middle Schoolers were excited to meet him. He entertained the students with dynamic spoken word performances of his poems, and he engaged them by having them complete the last word in several lines of poetry. He shared personal stories, both funny and touching, about dating, friendships, and being a father. He discussed his own lessons of resilience and perseverance, having faced numerous rejections when trying to get his first book published. He talked about how the no’s and work in rewriting his book were all just part of his journey to successfully getting his poetry into the world. He kept writing and sending his work to new people. He said that all we need is ONE yes! Now, he speaks for thousands of schools after once being told his writing would not be popular enough or good enough.
He has come a long way. MICDS was his last stop on his most recent book tour. After sharing through poetry how important it is to never give up, his visit was received with no less than exuberant cheers, laughter and music echoing off the walls!