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Merryl's latest happenings
Award-winning, author, Sara Pennypacker of the New York Times bestselling children’s Clementine, may write books for the younger set, but the overwhelming popularity of her books might have something to do with her universally infectious love of narrative and the power of story.
Pennypacker, who is currently finishing her seventh and final book in the series that centers on the life and lessons of eight year old Clementine and her quirky but loving family, recently visited San Diego to share with students her passion for integrating the arts into literature.
Upon invitation from Center Artes, Pennypacker , who travels widely to speak on literacy, spent time with students advocating the importance of reading and writing. Pennypacker, is not only a beloved author but is also the founder of the ShareOurBooks.org a community outreach program which lends books provided by authors to communities. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Pennypacker is currently based in Florida.
What is your writing background?
I was a painter for a long time and I loved that but after a while I came to understand that I had always been the person that was writing. From the very beginning I knew it was the right fit. I never had a question that I would be able to get a book published, it was a funny thing. And now? I can’t believe it myself but I’m in my 20th year of writing!
What was the catalyst for advocating engaging in reading and writing to students?
As an author you really want to involve as many people as can be.
When you’re writing a book you’re starting a conversation and you never really know where it is or where it will go. The more I write the more I understand what children’s books bring to children and what the opportunity is to communicate, and it takes my breath away. When I go into a school I usually feel like I never have enough time, there is so much I want to talk and ask them about but there are lots of things that we could have a conversation about, so I try and listen.
As an author what central message do you wish to communicate?
The world is shifting and as a writer, you have to go for a bigger goal so I hope to show that story is not just an entertainment form, it’s actually how we learn to view our own life and journey.
Stories reflect and show how things can be, that there is another way. For example, within school systems, I saw that books were not reflecting what the reality actually was, that there are teachers out there doing a really good job and helping out kids. It seemed to me that the books I was finding in that series leaned towards drama and dysfunction. Likewise, now especially, within books on families, there is a lot of dystopia I didn’t see anyone who was writing about families who were supportive, successful and doing a good job.
So, especially within the Clementine series, I wanted to present a celebration!
What can your readers look forward to next?
Well from now until April I’m racing for the finish with the final seventh book in the Clementine series. I only have about 3,000 words to write but I don’t really want it to end, it’s been a joy to write about the family of Clementine! After that, I’m really hoping I don’t get any more ideas because I’m fully booked for the next four years with new work!Groundbreaking Results Released
California State University San Marcos, in collaboration with the North County Professional Development Federation, the San Diego County Office of Education and 10 North San Diego County school districts, held a press conference on Thursday, February 9th to announce the groundbreaking results from DREAM (Developing Reading Education with Arts Methods), a four-year arts integration program funded with a nearly $1-million grant through the United States Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.
CSUSM's President Haynes and Dr. Merryl Goldberg announced that elementary student test scores in reading improved an astonishing 87 points as a result of DREAM's initiatives. The program's goal was to train 3rd and 4th grade teachers to use visual arts and theater activites to improve students' reading and language arts skills. Begun in June 2009, the program offered one week Summer Institutes coupled with coaching by professional artists throughout the year. Ten school districts have had teachers participate in the project, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook, Julian, Oceanside, Ramona, San Marcos, Valley Center-Pauma and Vista, representing 141 teachers and approximately 3,000 students.
For more on these exciting results, please see the following news items: