The Writer-in-Residence program is an inspiring three-day event for all students in the Junior School. After a three year hiatus from having in-person guests, we were pleased to welcome Stacy McAnulty, renowned children’s author, as this year’s Writer-in-Residence.
Sophia Hunter, Teacher Librarian, Junior School, highlights why the program is a special experience for Junior School students. “The purpose of Writer-in-Residence is for an author to come spend time with the students, to talk about the writing process, the creative process, and simply be inspiring to the children.”
Catering to each age group, Stacy hosted exciting behind-the-scenes talks about her work and the publishing process, held book readings and facilitated writing workshops for the older grades. We had the opportunity to speak to Stacy about the inspiration behind her books and how her personal experiences and background has shaped her unique works about STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning and references for young audiences.
“I always enjoyed reading and writing stories, I just wasn’t naturally good at it. As a kid, you get encouraged to do more of what you’re good at, while I focused on maths and engineering, writing took a backseat. As I got older I realized I was passionate about both and wanted to pursue both. One was just more natural while one took more work.” Ms Hunter adds, “To have students meet someone who became an engineer, but can still also be a writer, I think that the hybrid is very interesting and is a really important message about one’s dynamic capabilities.”
Out of the 32 books Stacy has written so far, she brought with her a collection that ranged from fact-based picture books about the universe and planets to chapter books that had mathematical rigour embedded into the story’s narrative. Students had a full author experience which included a book signing at the end of their sessions.
When asked about facing challenges in order to pursue one’s passion, Stacy spoke with young children and their families in mind, “I want to really emphasize that you don't have to be good at things right away. And kids need to know this because they can think they see an adult doing something, that it must have always been easy for them, it must have been natural for them. As a parent I see a focus on encouraging children to pursue things they’re instantly good at, but if they’re passionate about something else that perhaps they’re not great at right away, don’t give up on it.”
Her message did not go unnoticed by students, “I learned a lot about writing, like you actually have to go through a long, long process to publish a book. It takes time, and there's a high chance that you will get rejected multiple times. But you shouldn't let that stop you. Stacy showed us that it's not easy to write a book but if you put enough effort into it, it'll come out really well” said Violet, Grade 6.
While Stacy continued, “It comes back to my own reading struggles where I had to work harder, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth pursuing. A lot of people give up because they’re like ‘oh, I’m not good at it’, but if there’s joy in it, you will improve. Passion is so important because when we find things we love to do, we’re going to have to work hard anyway. But if it’s something you love doing, it’s going to feel less like work. That’s why I think passion is one of the most important things for achieving a dream.”
Ellie, Grade 6, shared, “Stacy taught us about all the steps she went through and I like how she told us that writing is rewriting because when I write a book, I initially feel like it's not good enough, so hearing that from Stacy was really encouraging.”