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Thompson Students Make Virtual Connection With Award-Winning Author

Students chatted with author Jeanne DuPrau through Skype connection

Author Jeanne DuPrau speaks with Thompson students through Skype. Photo courtesy Dayna Stein.
Author Jeanne DuPrau speaks with Thompson students through Skype. Photo courtesy Dayna Stein.

Students at Thompson Middle School made a virtual connection with an award-winning author.

Some 70 sixth grade Language Arts students spoke with “The City of Ember” author Jeanne DuPrau through a Skype connection on Jan. 9. The California-based writer, whose latest work is the first in a four-book series, spoke with students over Skype from the Thompson media center.

“The kids were wide-eyed with bright smiles when Ms. DuPrau popped onto our big screen,” said organizer and Language Arts teacher Dayna Stein.

DuPrau shared with students that creating a work takes time, and the first try is rarely what goes to publication. That message from an acclaimed author, Stein said, was important for students to hear.

“What was especially valuable for my students to hear from a professional author is that strong writing takes lots of drafts and plenty of time, even for published writers,” she said. “That's important for kids to hear when many of them expect to be done with their work after one or two tries.”

Among its honors, DuPrau’s book—adapted to the big screen in a 2008 film—was deemed an American Library Association Notable Book and was on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Modern communications have made it easier for authors to connect with their audiences—Stein said that as a child growing up in the 1980s she’d write authors through the mail but would never get answers to her questions. Times have changed, with author websites, email, and video chat.

“I would definitely do this type of activity again,” Stein said.

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