Just Keep Writing Meeting Alan Gratz at Avid

On November 15, I attended a book signing for author Alan Gratz at Avid.

This meeting was the first time I had ever really met an author. There was not much personal interaction with Gratz himself. He was signing books for much of the time I was there. I did get to explore his books and check out which one looked most interesting. As I have read several Holocaust books recently, I found that I was leaning away from his books that focused on that event, like Prisoner B-3087. The book that I did pick up and get signed, Projekt 1065, is about a young man who joined the Hitler Youth as a spy. I am super into the World War II period of history, but I have not read much literature from the time period that was not based in or on the Holocaust. So I was pumped to not only get the chance to read the book, but also to get it signed.

As I said, there was not a lot of opportunity for personal interaction.

What time we did have was mostly confined to explaining who we were, what we were there for, asking to get books signed, and then asking for and taking a picture. There was a line forming behind us so we couldn't ask Gratz to stay and talk for very long. However, I did love something he said to a young girl who was just ahead of us in line. The girl was barely 14, if that, and she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. The girl and her mother asked if, as an author, Alan Gratz had any advice for her.

"Just keep writing."

He went on to explain how writing can get really hard and that the key to writing is to not give up. This sounds overly simplistic in a way. However, that is exactly what we as teachers try to get across to our students when they say that they hate writing. We don't tell them to just do something else instead. We ask them to keep going, to keep trying. Even when it isn't coming out the way you want it to. Even when you think that the assignment is stupid. You'll get there, but you have to keep writing.

How this event affected me as a reader/teacher

While I have not been able to read the book yet, there is a lot of potential for it to be used to create an understanding of the history for that time period. I don't know how true to life the book is, but I do think it would be cool to try using a more current text to teach that time period, rather than relying solely on older texts. That is how I am hoping this book will allow me to grow as a reader, besides how that would allow me to grow as a teacher. I really want to see these more modern perspectives, not on what has been written over and over (Holocaust), but on the German experience. While this book is not about the pedestrian experience, (a spy in the Hitler Youth is not exactly a pedestrian story) it is a different take on the time period that I have read and really only ever seen written a very small number of times.

Created By
Chesley Jones

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