Local Author Inspires Reluctant Readers

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East Montpelier Elementary School Book Club

East Montpelier fourth, fifth and sixth graders have been enjoying book club this year. Students have been meeting regularly in the evening since school started. Hosted by library teacher Arlyn Bruccoli and fifth and sixth grade teachers, Ellen Shedd, and Claire Gallagher, students have read books that are nominees for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award. About a dozen plus kids come each week to do activities connected to the books, talk about the books, and have a snack.

On March 20th, Lost in the Pacific, 1942 author Tod Olson (who lives in Middlesex) came to the book club and shared what inspired him to write his nonfiction “Lost” survival story series. When he was their age, he read the book Alive about a rugby team from Uruguay whose plane crashed in the Andes Mountains. He was so enthralled he read the whole book in two days! Ever since then, he’s wanted to write stories that kids find riveting.

Author Tod Olson describes his motivation to write nonfiction survival stories for children.

Observing the students’ engagement as he presented, it’s clear that he’s certainly accomplished that with the book Lost in the Pacific, 1942. Students asked question after question of Olson who made the story come to life for the nine, ten, and eleven-year-olds.

Students listen from their “rafts.”

To go along with the harrowing true story of how eight men in three tiny inflatable rafts, lost in shark-infested Pacific Ocean without food or water near enemy-held territory survived three weeks before being rescued, the teachers planned an activity where the students created life rafts out of large sheets of paper. They imagined what it would be like to be in shark-infested waters.

Lost in the Pacific, 1942 is the first in a series of adventure stories Olson has written. There’s also Lost in Outer Space, about the Apollo 13 moon mission, and the third book is Lost in the Amazon, about a teenager who falls from a plane and has to survive on her own in the rainforest. A fourth book is in the works and Olson promised to send the students a picture for them to try and figure out what the book is about.

To view a WCAX piece about how Olson is inspiring reluctant readers to read – that highlights an East Montpelier boy – click here.

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