Top authors to share works in annual Kids Read event

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There's a theme in Walla Walla this time of year, particularly if you're an elementary school student. Everywhere you look there are books.

Not just any books, but specific, award-winning books. They're at the library, your classroom, your classroom library. Your teacher is reading them to you, you're reading them, your classmates are reading them.

These are can't-put-down, must-have-another, make-you-want-to-read books. The best part is, you can share them and discuss them with all your friends, because for once you're all getting to read the same books at the same time.

Reading is fun. The people who write books are fun. And next week, national award-winning authors are coming to meet you and share more stories.

As it does every spring, Walla Walla Kids Read is again making reading fun for thousands of students in the Walla Walla Valley. Five years ago, New York Times bestselling author and local resident Patrick Carman decided that every child should have the chance to not only read about heroes in their classroom books, but also meet their literary heroes: the authors who write those stories.

Each year, Walla Walla Kids Read hosts authors from around the country and donates books to every elementary classroom and library in the Walla Walla Public School system. Kids Read also provides teachers and librarians with teaching guides so that every student will have had the opportunity to read the wonderful stories written by each guest author before they attend the author presentations.

In anticipation of the authors' visit, students prepare for months with their teachers and librarians, reading and preparing art projects, and this year, a few lucky students who have been preparing with their school librarian will get the chance to interview the authors in person.

On April 16 and 17, local children from kindergarten through fifth-grade will have the opportunity to hear and meet this year's authors, Tony DiTerlizzi and Andrea Davis Pinkney, at presentations held in Whitman College's Cordiner Hall. Each author will provide a special presentation to the students twice over their two-day visit.

There will also be a book-signing at the community event hosted by Edison Elementary School on April 17 at 6-8 p.m., which is open to the public. Book and Game will have books for sale at the event.

DiTerlizzi is the author of the wildly popular middle-grade series, "The Spiderwick Chronicles," which has sold millions of copies and been adapted into a feature film. He also writes chapter books like "Kenny and the Dragon" and "The Search for WondLa," which has also been optioned for a film. The much-anticipated sequel, "A Hero for WondLa," will be hitting the shelves this May, only weeks after DiTerlizzi visits Walla Walla.

Pinkney's picture books include the award winning "Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down" and "Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride," a Jane Addams Honor Book and School Library Journal Best Book for the Year, as well as The Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

Children's Health Magazine named Pinkney among "The 25 Most Influential People in Our Children's Lives." Her most recent book, "Bird in a Box," explores the stories of three African-American girls whose difficult experiences during the Depression echo those of boxing champion Joe Louis. She has said her inspiration for writing books is her mother, who was an English teacher and always brought books home for her to read.

All Walla Walla elementary school students will attend the authors' presentations at Cordiner Hall.Bussing will be provided by Walla Walla Kids Read. Seating is limited for community members wishing to attend.

For more details and scheduling, see www.wallawallakidsread.com

Diana Farnsworth is Walla Walla Kids Read program coordinator.

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