A nationally known author made three stops in Surry County Schools in the past week to visit students.
North Carolina author Barbara O’Connor visited the fourth-grade students and fifth-grade Battle of the Books participants at Rockford, Franklin and Pilot Mountain elementary schools. In order for more kids to experience the visit, the system allowed other area elementary schools to bus their students to the closet location.
O’Connor has written 17 books, including “How to Steal a Dog” and “Greetings from Nowhere.” The fourth-grade classes at Surry County Schools have been reading “How to Steal a Dog” as part of their classroom assignments, according to White Plains student Cassidy Mills.
Students became enraptured by O’Connor talking about how she founded the ideas for her books from objects, bringing along those items. O’Connor stated, “The students love seeing some of the real items that I’ve used in my books, like a music box, a ruby, a boat made from a Yoo-Hoo box, and a sign for a lost dog. They see how they can also be inspired by things around them.”
Cassidy said, “it was really fun, and really really cool.” when she asked what her take was from the experience. Her favorite item was the sparkly poodle pin, which is featured in the book her class is reading.
The author’s novels are often set in the South and feature characters that are relatable to children. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and “How to Steal a Dog” was made into a movie in South Korea. Locally, her novels have recently been featured in North Carolina’s Elementary Battle of the Books.
O’Connor has visited schools throughout the country for more than 20 years. Cassidy said she felt like the writer’s visit would really help her get better in her writing skills.
O’Connor’s books have been nominated for awards in 38 states, and she has won six Parents Choice awards. A seasoned professional at school visits and conferences, she kept the students entertained as she talked to them about writing stories as a child, the inspiration for her books, and the importance of descriptive writing.
“It helped me to understand how important it is to show the characters’ emotions.” At one point O’Connor referenced to a part of “How to Steal a Dog” where a character is biting her nails, to appear nervous.
“We wanted to provide a meaningful and memorable experience for our students,” said Sonia Dickerson, director of school library media and communications. “And based on the compliments received, I believe we did.”
Rebecca Bennett, Copeland Elementary’s media coordinator, told Dickerson, “Everyone at Copeland really enjoyed it, and that teachers are still commenting about how she related so much of her talk to their curriculum.”
On her blog, Barbara O’Connor made these comments about her visit, “Thank you for an absolutely wonderful day! Every school was so welcoming and friendly. The kids were so enthusiastic and prepared. I really enjoyed my visit to your lovely Surry County Schools.”
Reach Eva Winemiller at (336) 415-4739