#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Nielsen Visits LISD
Last week, LISD welcomed #1 New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer Nielsen to 11 campuses across the district. Nielsen is the author of “The Ascendance” series, the “Traitor’s Game” series, and historical novels including “Iceberg”, “A Night Divided”, “Words on Fire” and “Lines of Courage”. Her young adult fantasy and historical fiction novels are beloved by students across the world, including those here in LISD.
Through her work with the North Texas Teen Book Festival, McKamy Middle School librarian Milissa Vo connected with Nielsen about visiting our campuses. “Through my work and service with the NTTBF, I have been fortunate enough to see Jennifer Nielsen present and knew she would be an ideal fit for LISD,” said Vo. “...She is a dynamic speaker with a great appeal to young readers…and genuinely cares about each student.”
A few months after that original connection, Nielsen was in front of our students to tell them about her experience as an author. “6th grade was the most important year in my writing career because I wrote my first book,” Nielsen told students. “...Then in 8th grade my teacher entered my short story in a writing contest and I won…So you all represent the most important years in my writing career.”
Though she wouldn’t publish her first book until her 20s, Nielsen stressed the importance of persevering even when you don’t get the results you desire. “Five people in the world had heard of the [first] book,” she laughed. “And four of them were my mom.”
Throughout the presentation, students learned valuable lessons about the writing process; that stories need a strong beginning, the importance of research when writing, and the necessity for all characters to have hard choices.
“If life is putting you through some hard things, I want you to know that is your opportunity to become a hero,” Nielsen said. “That is why we put our characters through hard things. It is your choice, and you can choose to be a hero.”
The last lesson Nielsen shared was the simplest, that any writing is good writing. “The most important part about writing a book are the words ‘the end’,” she told students. “Because it means that you finished it…and just that is something phenomenal.”
Students left Nielsen’s presentations inspired, with many staying afterwards to ask questions or get their copy of her books signed. “This was a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and see a New York Times bestselling author,” said Milissa Vo. “Students were engaged during Jennifer Nielsen's presentations across the district as she is a talented speaker…This event allowed students to celebrate literacy in a fun and engaging way.”
Following her session at Griffin Middle School, students in the campus’ book club that had the opportunity to speak with Nielsen raved about their experience.
“It was like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said sixth-grader Theophilus M. “I got to meet one of my favorite authors and learn about her books and why she created them. When she was working with us, I realized that I have to take time and have patience to write.”
Classmate Adelynn C. agreed.
“It was exciting and I was nervous because she is amazing at her work and it was unreal to be in the same room with her and talking to her.”
Griffin’s library media specialist, Erin Jewell, described the impact this experience had on her most avid readers.
“The thing that I love most about an author visit is that it makes the person real. They are no longer a name on the spine of their book, but this person that actually visited their school. It makes the whole process of reading their books that much more special. I love that Ms. Nielsen spoke to our entire eighth grade class, but there was true magic when she worked with our book club students. She made sure that every single student could share ideas and contribute to the story they created.”