Meet Ginjer Clarke one of the many authors who worked with Behind the Book program last fall. Ginjer brought her book What’s up in the Amazon Rainforest to a 4th/5th grade classroom at PS 46 in Ft. Greene. Our kids loved this nonfiction book. After meeting Ginjer to learn about her research and writing processes, students wrote letters advocating for rainforest conservation to public officials. In this Q&A Ginjer talks about her experience with Behind the Book. We loved working with her and are very excited to share her with you.
What brought you to Behind the Book?
Briana wrote and asked me to participate in an author visit based on her familiarity with my Out! series of animal nonfiction books that touch on many concepts taught in elementary science, such as habitats and adaptations.
One of Behind the Book’s main objectives is to instill the love of reading. How do you think author visits contribute to achieving this goal?
I don’t remember ever meeting an author as a kid, and I can see that the idea of a living person being an author for her job is a new concept for a lot of kids. I talk a lot about how much I love reading and hope to instill some of my enthusiasm in students as well.
What impact has your classroom experience had on you as a writer and a mentor?
Just as it’s unique for students to think of an author as a real person, it’s very helpful and inspiring for me to picture these students as I’m writing. I also love learning from teachers and seeing the ways that they are able to take a topic and weave it into all areas of learning. I don’t have a teaching background, so the more time I spend in classrooms, the more I recognize students’ capabilities and challenges and the more I want to contribute to their learning.
What, if anything, has been the most surprising part of your experience with BtB?
I was most impressed and surprised by how much the students had worked with my book What’s Up in the Amazon Rainforest and used it in every aspect of their curriculum, including science, social studies, ESL, math, reading, and writing. Because this book had been only recently published, I got to know it a little better through these students and their incredibly dedicated, creative teachers.
What differences do you see in your class visits with BtB and the ones set up by your publicist or from school requests?
The students were much more prepared in terms of working with the book in advance, whereas my other visits are usually more general and focused on writing exercises. They were eager to work together and lots of fun to spend time with in their classroom.
Ginjer L. Clarke writes fun, fact-filled nonfiction for beginning readers about weird and wonderful animals. Her books, most of which are part of Grosset & Dunlap’s All Aboard Science Reader series, have sold a combined total of more than 2 million copies worldwide. Her books have been favorably reviewed in Booklist, Horn Book, School Library Journal, Children’s Literature, and regional newspapers and magazines, and are featured in Scholastic and Bedford Falls Book Fairs. Ginjer lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, young son, and several silly-looking pets.