By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
“Mele Kalikimaka” — Christmas came early Hawaiian-style for Skyline Elementary with prize presentations for the school’s award-winning book fair.
Monday’s celebration included a schoolwide assembly featuring best-selling author, Patrick Carman. Carman talked about his stories, answered student questions and signed books.
“Social media is such a big part of kids lives now,” said Carman who has incorporated multimedia into his books in order to reconnect the children of today’s wired world to stories in books.
Students, who had the author sign a book, received a Whippet Hotel key coded to go online and unlock a mystery to one of the author’s books. Through social media, Carman creates a community of readers and writers.
“Many people can learn to be a good writer — but can you tell a good story?” Carman asked.
“Whenever you hear a story — and every time you tell a story out loud — that works a special part of your brain that helps you become a better writer,” Carman said. “Everyone is different — and your imagination is a singular thing.”
He said every book you read helps you become a better writer.
As a kid, he was inspired by Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
The students were curious about Carman’s book “Floors.”
The fantasy adventure provides puzzles to solve, fabulous rooms and inventions to explore and large dollops of humor to tickle the funny bones of reluctant readers. Carman is not just an author but uses transmedia in multiple platforms to develop a seamless story through the written word, video audio diaries, illustrations, websites, apps and social media.
“It’s an awesome epic,” said Dylan England, 9.
Anh Nguyen, 10, said she could see Willy Wonka in Carman’s character of Mr. Whippet “because they’re both really wacky and have lots of imagination.” She said she is anxious to explore the new clues online about Carman’s stories and it was “exciting he came to our school.”
Fifth-grader Misty Ventris said she couldn’t wait to go online to the secret video about the author’s book.
As Willy Wonka inspired him, Carman predicted one of his book’s characters may inspire this generation as he tries to reconnect the wired world to reading stories.
He said, “I’ve heard from hundreds of teachers and librarians when they talk about the emergence of multimedia books — kids who weren’t reading are reading again. They’re coming back.”
Skyline won the visit from Carman after earning first place in the Scholastic Book Fairs National Elementary School Contest, a semi-annual competition that encourages students to host the best book fair. The school will receive $2,000 in books and merchandise from the company.