Newbery Award Winner Kwame Alexander to Speak at School
Newbery Award Winner Kwame Alexander to Speak at School

On March 22, St. Anne's-Belfield School Librarian Sarah FitzHenry will moderate a discussion between noted children's author Kwame Alexander and illustrator Ekua Holmes as an invitation-only event for area students as part of the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book.

"Kwame Alexander is already a huge celebrity in the Learning Village Library," said FitzHenry.

"Earlier this year, fifth and sixth grade students participated in a book club to celebrate his middle-grade story in verse, Booked. With more than 60 students in attendance, our record-breaking Booked book club was full of energy and excitement. Multiple stations were available throughout the library, designed around different learning styles to make all students feel welcome."

Following from the arc of the story, featuring a twelve-year-old protagonist named Nick and the backdrop of a World Cup match, book club students could kick goals outside with Mr. Passmore, work on an interactive art project with Ms. Stevens, or answer questions in rhyme with Mrs. Canova. For lunch, small groups sat down for a discussion over pizza. The book club was so innovative that it was featured on Nerdy Book Club and Alexander himself commented that the story of the book club "got me all emotional. Just wow!"

Booked and its companion novel, The Crossover, remain two of the most popular titles in the library. Alexander's other books, including Acoustic Rooster, are staples with St. Anne's-Belfield students as well.

In March, Alexander and Holmes will discuss their new collaborative book Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.

"We are thrilled to have Kwame Alexander return to the Virginia Festival of the Book as our youth headlining author for 2017," said Sarah Lawson, assistant director of the Virginia Center for the Book.

"Now, more than ever, we need voices like his to help share the importance of literature and poetry to our shared humanity, both for young people and the rest of us. That he's joined by the fantastic illustrator Ekua Holmes only makes these Festival programs that much sweeter."

Perhaps more thrilled than Festival organizers are the Learning Village students themselves.

"Students are still in disbelief that this beloved author will be coming to visit us in March," reported FitzHenry. "They are already brainstorming ways to welcome him and show him how much they love his books!"

More Virginia Festival of the Book Events at St. Anne's-Belfield School

In addition to Alexander and Holmes' visit, the School will host a number of other Virginia Festival of the Book events as well. On March 22, the Upper School will host Jeanine Michna-Bales for a discussion of her book Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad, and on March 24 will welcome David Denby, author of Lit Up. Also on March 24, students in Learning Village Grades K - 4 will have a chance to meet Splashdance author Liz Starin.