We’re honored to work with so many talented and inspiring authors and we’re always excited to introduce them to our students and watch the creative sparks fly during their writing and editing workshops. This fall we worked with Edie and Raul Colón and their book, Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York! for the first time. The book, based on Edie’s immigration to New York from Havana, inspired a book of immigration stories written and illustrated by Ms. Goldman’s fourth-grade class.
Our fourth graders loved working through the writing process with Edie, who shared her experiences of becoming a first-time author with our class of young authors-to-be. They were also inspired by Raul’s illustrations and art workshops.
In this month’s Q&A we meet author Edie Colón.
What differences do you see in your class visits with BtB and the ones set up by your publicist or from school requests?
This was the best author visit because kids participated. They feel they’re part of the workshop. They wrote a story arc, which was new to me too. I had to research that and teach it. They learned alongside me!
What impact has classroom experiences had on you as a writer?
I wrote the book when I was teaching. I read the manuscript to the children before I sent it to a publisher. I asked them to close their eyes and picture the story. It was a restless class so if they could get through the story without the pictures – and be interested – I knew it would be okay. They gave me the thumbs up so I sent it to the publisher.
When we introduce our students to a new author, we always ask them what they’d like to know about that author. What was your favorite question that you’ve been asked?
The questions are so well thought out. I love answering questions when they ask about my feelings. My favorite question was “What happened to your doll, Penny?” (The doll is featured in Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York!)
What book inspired you to love reading?
It was The Boxcar Children series. Because my 3rd/ 4th-grade teacher, Mrs. Caine, read it to us. That was in Rockland County, I was an English Language Learner and I didn’t read well but I loved being read to. That’s how the love of reading came to me.
What has been the most surprising part of your experience with Behind the Book?
The interest of the children. Their attention, their participation. I don’t think I was ever in a classroom of 33 kids where the kids were so interested. It made me so excited to come back and see them.
Edie Colón is an elementary school teacher in New York state. She emigrated from Cuba at age 5. Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York! is based on her childhood.