From Hollywood to the Bronx

Author Gayle Forman is no stranger to Hollywood, having served as an Executive Producer when her novel If I Stay was made into a movie. She’ll get another peek at the glamorous life soon, with her second movie in the works. But we’re most interested in the fact that she’s eager to return to a BtB high school next year, after finding her first experience in the classroom with us both thrilling and rewarding.

Behind The Book-19

Gayle worked with 11th grade honors students at the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science (CIMS). They studied I Was Here as part of a career unit; a class in which students learned to develop resumes and craft personal statements. Our program used the novel as a model to develop narrative voice in the students’ original writing. The class was allowed to choose whether they wrote fact or fiction, but were assigned to develop pieces with the voice of a teenager.

In addition to the author workshops that Gayle led, the students created personal collages with a BtB teaching artist and participated in a peer editing session – all of which led up to the publication of one of our popular student anthologies. Though BtB has worked with CIMS and the teacher, Alicia Lerman, for five years, this was the first student book that we published with the school. The response was exceptional – the students swelled with pride; the teacher and principal were thrilled, and one of the school administrators was moved to tears. Of course, Gayle brought cookies to the celebration.

Behind The Book-16Ms. Lerman said, “As their teacher I learned my students deeply appreciated a creative outlet, and the opportunity to meet a rockstar of an author, and the chance to read (and keep) and discuss a high interest novel.”

We all can’t wait for Gayle to return next year. Additional thank to Angelica Vasquez for photographing the book celebration.