GET­TING ON THE SAME PAGE

Award-win­ning au­thor Eric Wal­ters speaks to stu­dents at Strat­ford and District Chris­tian School

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER

Eric Wal­ters speaks to stu­dents at Strat­ford and District Chris­tian School Mon­day morn­ing. For more on the au­thor’s pre­sen­ta­tions to the school’s stu­dents,

Au­thor Eric Wal­ters is a busy man

With around 500 school vis­its in a year, 10 new books set to be re­leased in the next few years, meet­ings with ed­i­tors and pub­lish­ers, and find­ing time to write on top of all that, Wal­ters’ daily sched­ule is of­ten rather tight.

Yet re­gard­less of ev­ery­thing else he had to do Mon­day, the teacher-turned-young-adult-writer took the en­tire morn­ing to give stu­dents at the Strat­ford and District Chris­tian School (SDCS) an inside look into the re­search and re­al­world ex­pe­ri­ences that go into each and ev­ery one of his books.

“You’ve got to talk about more than just books. You’ve got to talk about con­cepts and ideals, prin­ci­ples, val­ues. So I dis­cuss a lot of things that are un­re­lated to my books, but re­lated to who we are. I have a plat­form and I need to ad­vo­cate through that plat­form,” Wal­ters said.

“… Books are bib­lio­ther­apy. They give peo­ple a chance to see other peo­ple, a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and how to see from an­other’s point of view. They make you a rounded, more full hu­man be­ing – a true hu­man be­ing.”

Split­ting the morn­ing into two pre­sen­ta­tions – one for stu­dents from kinder­garten to Grade 3, and the other for grades 4 through 8 – Wal­ters told the kids gath­ered in the gym­na­sium how he first started writ­ing to in­stil a love of read­ing in his own stu­dents. He ex­plained how real peo­ple, like his Grade 5 teacher Chis­tena Gay and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, have helped him de­velop his char­ac­ters, and how ex­pe­ri­ences like climb­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and vol­un­teer­ing at the Rolling Hills Res­i­dence or­phan­age in Kenya helped in­form his sto­ries.

“My favourite book that I’ve writ­ten is al­ways the one that I’m writ­ing,” Wal­ters told stu­dents af­ter his sec­ond pre­sen­ta­tion.

Through­out his talks, Wal­ters high­lighted what it means to be Cana­dian, traits of which in­clude gen­eros­ity of spirit, a kind heart, a will­ing­ness to take care of one an­other, as well as peo­ple from around the world, and stand­ing up for what is right.

Wal­ters’ visit was the kick­off event for the school’s Lit­er­acy Week, dur­ing which staff and stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in events and ac­tiv­i­ties fo­cused around read­ing, in­clud­ing a book ex­change and a lit­er­ary char­ac­ter dress-up day. The stu­dents are also tak­ing part in a fundrais­ing cam­paign to raise money for adult lit­er­acy pro­grams in Haiti.

“(Eric) re­ally made his books come alive,” said Heidi Flikkema, the Grade 5/6 teacher at SDCS who or­ga­nized Lit­er­acy Week. “He con­nected on a va­ri­ety of lev­els with dif­fer­ent types of stu­dents –maybe stu­dents who wouldn’t be as en­gaged in read­ing, but had their in­ter­est piqued and may want to read some of his books.” gsim­mons@post­media.com

GALEN SIM­MONS/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

GALEN SIM­MONS/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

Au­thor Eric Wal­ters was at the Strat­ford and District Chris­tian School Mon­day morn­ing to kick off the school's Lit­er­acy Week.

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