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Rochester area celebrates 34 years of Authors in April

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 12, 2017

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ROCHESTER HILLS/ ROCHESTER/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The magic of books will be highlighted throughout the community this month as part of the Rochester-based Authors in April program.

Founded in 1984 by a small group of local community leaders, Authors in April Inc. coordinates the Rochester-area Authors in April program — which is now a yearlong effort on the part of Rochester Community Schools, and private school parents and educators, and the Rochester Hills Public Library to bring highly regarded children’s authors to the community’s elementary and middle school students.

The program, according to organizers, is designed to encourage students to become lifelong readers, to improve their own creative writing ability, and to develop greater appreciation, understanding and discernment for quality literature and art.

“This is the 34th year of Authors in April, and it’s a nationally recognized program that is unique to our district. It helps promote literacy and gets students excited about reading books,” said Lisa Wattai, a member of the Authors in April executive board.

In the early years, organizers said, three authors were invited to visit elementary school students over a period of three days. The program has since expanded to include middle schools, and the authors’ stay has been lengthened to five days. The program is now the only one of its size and scope in the country, according to organizers.

To kick off this year’s Authors in April program, the public is invited to participate in a free community scavenger hunt 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 22 in downtown Rochester. The scavenger hunt will begin at the Rochester Hills Public Library, where families will be given some clues and a map that will lead them to various businesses downtown. Inside the businesses, families will find answers to questions about various Authors in April books and authors that they can record on their handouts, and kids will be given “trinkets” along the way.

Wattai said Authors in April culminates with students meeting the authors, which will happen this year April 24-28.

“Throughout the whole year, the kids read the authors’ books, and they do art in their art classes based on the books and the illustrations, and the media specialists, teachers and parents in our district put together all kinds of activities and programs based on the books. It all helps build a great foundation with our students and promotes literacy, which is wonderful,” she said.

This year, author and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka will visit kindergarten and first-grade students, Lenore Look will meet with second- and third-grade students, Cynthia Lord will visit fourth- and fifth-grade students, and Neal Shusterman will meet with middle school students in Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township.

“We’ve received so many comments from parents in our district that have said that Authors in April is what has sparked that love of reading in their child, which is really great. That is why we do what we do,” Wattai said.

The public is also invited to a book signing event 4-6 p.m. April 26 in the multipurpose room of the Rochester Hills Public Library, where families and individuals can meet the authors and have their books signed. Books will be available for purchase in the library’s lobby, and registration is not needed.

Library Director Christine Lind Hage said the Rochester Hills Public Library is proud to be able to offer the Authors in April Autograph Party.

“I believe that by making these authors accessible, we can encourage children to be lifelong readers, help them improve their own creative writing ability and develop a greater appreciation for quality literature,” she said in a statement.

To learn more about Authors in April, visit www.authorsinapril.org.

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