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Winning over reluctant young readers

Trio of children’s authors to hold group book launch in St. Albert

Do you have a young reader who puts up a fight when it comes to sitting down with a book? A trio of children’s authors is coming to St. Albert next weekend to put forth their novel attempts at getting those reluctant readers eager to get from cover to cover.

Alison Hughes, Karen Spafford-Fitz, and Lorna Schultz Nicholson will be at Chapters next weekend for a group launch. They each have a new book, just out for those young readers, which have been carefully crafted for the purpose of turning "reluctant" upside down. Getting those children who read lower than average grade levels hooked on reading is an added level of difficulty for a kids’ author.

“It's a challenge for a writer because you're wanting the books to be interesting and exciting and age appropriate, while using simpler vocabulary, and direct, simpler sentence structure. You don't use any flashbacks or any kind of techniques [like] internal dialogue that you might in books that are grade appropriate,” Hughes began.

“You've got it in the back of your mind the whole time that you're writing. I really like the genre because it frees you up to be extremely direct: you jump right in, there's not a lot of intro. You make the story very streamlined and cut away all of the excess and you're left with a really fun kernel of action. There's just not a lot of fluffing around. It's basically direct. It's like getting on a train shortstop.”

These books are usually a lot shorter too, just as a way of making the accomplishment of finishing a story that much easier to obtain. A novel that would otherwise be 65,000 words, she explained, turns into a book one-fourth the size.

“The challenge is to create a really engaging story, a complete story with engaging characters, and, fully developed plot in such a short time.”

Spafford-Fitz has a sports novel out called Take the Lead while Nicholson has a teen romance out called Just Three. Hughes has just released her mystery thriller called Watch Out, which is loosely based on Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

“This is the challenge with children. They're not that mobile. They don't get in cars. Their neighborhood … their house is very central to their lives. When I watched Rear Window, I just thought it was so interesting that his immobility was the impetus for the whole story. I thought, ‘That's interesting. Kids could do that.’”

The diversity of these offerings shows just how strident publishers are in developing those otherwise challenged young readers into ardent book lovers.

These three authors will be appearing at the St. Albert Chapters on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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