Saturday, April 23, 2011

Author Steve Sheinkin's Visit and Advice for Writers

     Recently, author Steve Sheinkin visited Matthew Whaley to talk to grades 3-5 about his nonfiction books. Sheinkin discussed how he was formerly a social studies textbook author. He explained how he grew frustrated by being limited in what he could write about when it came to history. From this experience, he evolved into an independent writer of a narrative style of nonfiction that gives a more interesting "storyteller voice" to talking about historical events. In particular, Sheinkin is intrigued by the more human aspects of events and people in history. He explained how he wants the reader to care about the characters they are reading about in order to build a connection to them and understand their motivations in life. His writing is meant to make both famous and every day people from the past real and tangible. Sheinkin is also passionate about giving overlooked, small stories a voice and finding a niche to explore that is not necessarily a huge part of American history.  

    Sheinkin had particular advice for the students which was valuable to hear from a published author. He spoke about the impact that a strong lead has for a book. As you can see in excerpts through Macmillan Children's Books, the sample introductions certainly are attention grabbing! It's important to note that Sheinkin's books are for an older audience. I could see history buffs in fifth grade and middle school enjoying his texts with interesting takes on historical events.  Sheinkin asked the audience of students for suggestions for new topics to consider writing about next. The students enjoyed being an active part of his impromptu brainstorming!

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