Thursday, September 29, 2016

Poetry Friday

"Poet Laureate Jose Felipe Herrera just gave me this writing advice: 'Face the Abyss with many different colors'."
                                                                                               ~Gene Yang

The bit of writing advice above combined with Tabatha Yeatt's poem from last Friday was my inspiration for today.

Last Friday, Library of Congress’ Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Yang, visited my school. 

Mr. Yang's visit was absolutely stellar. Students and staff were completely enthralled. One math teacher tracked me down on Monday, “Mrs. Mitchell, I’m not going to lie. I was not happy about having to give up my planning time to chaperone the assembly….but I LOVED it.”

Administrators from our Central District Office attended  and enjoyed Gene’s presentation so much that they promised to grant us money to buy more of his graphic novel series, Secret Coders, for our library.

The PBS News Crew that came to interview our students and Gene were happy with the footage they got of kids excited over an author discussing his book  about a group of kids that discover a secret school and solve mysteries with binary code!

As a Teacher Librarian I have to say I slept with a smile on my face that night. Friday, September 23rd was an A+ day. I know author visits are good for kids….but this particular author visit was especially outstanding. We are fueled to talk about coding and graphic novels for at least this school year. It was a literature and literacy success.

Like my students, I am one of Gene Yang’s biggest fans. I will buy every word he is able to publish. I follow him on social media like the fan-girl that I am.

After leaving my school, Gene attended the National Book Festival in DC in an official capacity as Ambassador and as a guy who’s passionate about kid-lit. He had a chance to talk to Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and shared the writing advice Herrera gave him. It's no surprise that the advice was poetic. Mr. Herrera really knows what we writers, famous or not, face.

Thanks First Books/Children's BookCouncil for sponsoring Mr.Yang's visit!

Thanks to Karen Edmisten: Mom. Writer. Consumer of Coffee. for hosting today's Poetry Friday!
Mr. Yang talking coding & books


  1. This sounds like a book for my family. My hubby and kids are into coding. And art. Great post.

  2. Love your poem. We all have to face into the abyss. And it sounds like your author visit was as inspirational as one should be!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for everyone! I'll have to look into Gene Yang's books--the combination of binary code and a graphic novel format could be a nice hook for some kids. Thanks!

  4. BRAVA! For your students, for your poem, for Gene Yang & Jose Herrera.
    And for YOU!
    I get a vibrant sense of the energy from that magical visit, Linda.
    Also the neurons are remembering from back in May, first hearing about this future fall day :)

    So cool to

    1. smooches to you! I'm so glad you helped me figure out Poetry Friday. I LOVE IT!

  5. Excellent! Your job is done. Now you get to do it all over again and again and again. Keep making a difference.

  6. Yang's books are marvelous, agreed. What a marvelous day that you set up. Congratulations, now you will celebrate all the year!

  7. Hooray for spectacular author visits! Sounds like food for the spirit.

  8. Wow! What an awesome experience!

  9. How totally inspiring, Linda. I'm so jealous... and happy for you at the same time. :)

  10. What an incredible experience, both for you and the kids! And such powerful advice.

  11. Author visits are so fantastic! I think sometimes kids think the authors are like the characters in their books - just made up! Only when the students get to meet them do they really realize that THEY could be an author too. Sounds like a great visit!

  12. Lucky, lucky you (and your students)!! Gene Yang is a ROCK STAR!!

  13. I heard Gene Yang last winter at Western's Literacy Conference. He's an exceptional speaker and had me, a math phobic, trying out his coding exercises. He's a fabulous one to have as our Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

  14. I opened my computer this morning and found this old post of yours that totally delighted me, Linda.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!