Authors bring books to life at Cherokee school

First-grader Lillian Boggs dives into a book by Sherri Rinker, an author who recently paid a virtual visit to Indian Knoll Elementary in Canton.
First-grader Lillian Boggs dives into a book by Sherri Rinker, an author who recently paid a virtual visit to Indian Knoll Elementary in Canton.

An ongoing concern among teachers at all levels is how to get kids to read more. At Indian Knoll Elementary in Canton, Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis has uncapped one formula to success: introduce students to the authors behind the books.

“When the kids see the author and make that connection, it really sparks an interest,” said Lewis. “Any time we have an author, all their books are checked out of the library for the rest of the year. It promotes a love of reading among our kids.”

Lewis finds authors by working in tandem with the staff at FoxTale Book Shoppe, an independent seller in Woodstock for almost 14 years.

“They have always been very generous in coming to us,” said Lewis. “When they have an author who wants to reach out to children, they reach out to us.”

FoxTale owner Karen Schwettman met Lewis first as a customer, and the two have teamed up to schedule author visits.

“Knowing what a believer she is in books and educating children made her the person we called,” said Schwettman. “When we have an author at the school, we also advertise that they’ll be in the store later that day so kids can come by if they missed the event or come to see them again. It’s a win-win.”

Recently, Ridley Pearson, a top seller noted for his adult fiction as well as “The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark” for the younger set, made a virtual appearance, as did Sherri Rinker, whose series for young readers includes “Good Night Construction Site” and “Three Cheers for Kid McGear.”

Lewis preps the young audience by getting them familiar with the writers and the books.

“I try to read from the books during storytime, and I play the book trailers,” she said. “During the visit, they get to ask questions. Usually they ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ They want to know the author’s history – how long they’ve been publishing, how old they were when they first published.”

The personal connections not only inspire more reading, they have an impact on the rest of the curriculum, said Principal Kim Cerasoli.

Author visits encourage reading for pleasure, motivate reluctant readers, improve writing skills and support classroom learning,” she said. “Visiting authors also share their creative process with students, which often inspires our young learners to make their own books.”

This year, COVID put the author visits online, but the results went beyond what Lewis expected.

“Through shared links, we had kids in the classroom and kids at home,” she said. “And we were able to include other schools across the district. It was really neat to have hundreds of kids on the call with these authors who really held their attention and got them excited about writing.”

Information about Indian Knoll is online at

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