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Nonfiction Author Schools Mahwah Students with Writing Workshop

All township elementary school students will take 28-time published author Steve Swinburne's workshop, thanks to an 'Author Day' grant from the MSF.

Steve Swinburne at Joyce Kilmer Monday. Credit: Jessica Mazzola.
Steve Swinburne at Joyce Kilmer Monday. Credit: Jessica Mazzola.

Use strong verbs and write with details. Those were the messages 28-time published author Steve Swinburne gave to students at the Joyce Kilmer School in Mahwah Monday afternoon during this year’s ‘Author Day’ writer’s workshop.

Each year, school librarian Robin Canetti said she helps organize an author visit to the township elementary schools.

“This year, I was looking for a nonfiction writer who could give the kids a writing workshop,” Canetti said.

“The timing on this is perfect in terms of the new emphasis on nonfiction reading and writing in the [new Common Core curriculum standards].”

Each year, Canetti said, she applies for a grant from the Mahwah Schools Foundation to fund 'Author Day.'

“I always apply and they always approve it. It’s really fantastic,” she said.

“And, the HSOs help in the schools on the day of the event.”

Swinburne’s interactive talk Monday focused on some of the messages of his books, which are mostly about animals and nature, how he conveys nonfiction images to readers with his words. He also tasked students with writing about nonfiction topics using strong verbs and descriptive language.

“I never had authors come to my school when I was growing up,” Swinburne said.

“But, I think it really validates what teachers are doing in the classroom. Plus, I get to bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to my talks, which is important. I’m talking about some big things, but I’m able to do it in a light, fun way.”

Swinburne will be conducting writing workshops at JK, Betsy Ross, George Washington, and Lenape Meadows all week. The author said he spends about nine months of the year traveling from his Vermont home all across the country to conduct seminars in schools.

“I just hope to inspire the kids, and to get them passionate about writing,” he said.

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