On Wednesday, November 3, the Dorothy Floyd Library hosted a visit from critically acclaimed author Candace Fleming. She has written dozens of books for children, both fiction and nonfiction, and her lyrical prose and innovative storytelling have captured the hearts and minds of many students here in the Lower School.
Fleming spoke with Grades K-4 about her books, her writing and research process, and collaborating with experts. She spoke at length about “story seeds,” her term for ideas that inspire her creative storytelling. She encouraged students to always use the most important tools for writers—their eyes and ears—to look for story seeds in their own worlds. Students were asked if they have their own journals that they use for writing, and they nodded emphatically. Fleming then displayed her own writing journal from her elementary school days, and showed students the blue ribbon that she won in a writing competition when she was young that she still keeps to inspire her to continue writing.
Fleming explained her writing process in detail. She asked students to raise their hands if they had ever written a perfect story on the first try. No hands were raised. Fleming then discussed how her writing process begins with a draft, and then she makes so many re-writes that she often loses count of the number of drafts that she has written. Students were fascinated to learn that not even a professional writer is perfect! She also explained that many of her books are illustrated by her husband, Eric Rohmann, and showed several drafts of his illustrations.
Students had the opportunity to ask Fleming questions about her writing, and many asked probing questions about the way that she writes and researches. They were curious about how long it takes to write a book. Fleming explained that a picture book can take up to six months to complete, and some longer books can take up to a year and a half. One of her most recent books, The Curse of the Mummy, took three years to complete!
The conversations with each grade level were unique, and Fleming never told the same story twice. Students across the Lower School were captivated by her enthusiasm, knowledge, and kindness. Throughout the week, students will write thank-you notes to Fleming for her visit.