Bostian Elementary students study their favorite authors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CHINA GROVE — Donna Rymer’s students do more than read books, they get to know the person behind the words.
It’s an exercise, she says , that gives her fourth- and fifth- grade academically and intellectually gifted students at Bostian Elementary School a stronger appreciation for literature.
Each student in Rymer’s class completed a research project on their favorite author, learning about their history and reading several of their books.
“It helps develop their passion and might turn them on to reading in the future,” she said.
Fifth-grader Kelsie Ritchie did her project on teen fiction writer Judy Blume.
“I picked her because I really love the way that she writes and how she gives you facts and advice in her stories,” she said.
Fifth-grader Lauren Dowd researched Nancy Rue, a lesser known author.
“I picked her because she’s a Christian writer and she really gives life lessons in her stories,” she said. “Reading gives you power and knowledge and I really learned a lot during this process. I think it made me a better writer.”
Fourth-grader Nathaniel Kimball said researching mystery writer Ron Roy gave him a newfound perspective on writing.
“It surprised me that as a little kid he hated reading and writing but got into high school he read a really good book and started writing,” he said. “I like reading more than writing because you I can go on journeys far and wide.”
Rymer said the projects are a good way for students to dig deeper and connect to what they are reading.
“It also helps with critical thinking,” she said.
After completing their projects, students paid homage to writers through an “Author Extravaganza” held in the school’s library.
During the event, students sang about reading strategies and recited poems on the topic of reading.
Local author Dicy McCullough rounded out the event, sharing with students how her writing progressed from poetry to columns for the Salisbury Post to children’s books.
McCullough said she prefers to write about things that are true so as a reader she’s drawn to nonfiction.
And she shared that the lessons she learned as a child still stick with her today.
“Those seeds were planted at this age,” she said to the students. “Those nuggets that you have learned now will become part of our stories.”
McCullough also told the students that the key to being a successful writer is “practice, practice, practice.”
“I always go back and see what I can do to improve,” she said.
She encouraged students to write about things they are passionate about, that way they won’t get bored during the process.
“My suggestion is to make it active,” she said. “Whether it’s going and talking to someone and writing their stories or starting a writing group after school hours.”
Students will have the opportunity to meet “Blue” author Joyce Hostetter after the winter break.
“I like reaching out to the community and engaging them because I want my students to be active learners,” Rymer said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.