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Children's author visits Kennedy Elementary

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David LaRochelle asked two volunteers to come to the front and help him move puppet characters. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)2 / 2

David LaRochelle, a Minnesota author and illustrator, visited students at Kennedy Elementary School Jan. 19. LaRochelle spent the day doing some storytelling, drawing and talking about the process of writing, revising and publishing.

"Schools invite me to come out to get kids excited about reading and writing themselves," LaRochelle said.

LaRochelle is a former elementary school teacher. He spent four years working as a fourth-grade teacher until he got his first book published. Since then, he has been able to publish about 30 books.

One thing that LaRochelle stressed during his presentation was that anyone can be an author, even as an elementary school student. Even if someone isn't the best speller, he or she can be an author. He proved this statement by taking out a story that his second-grade teacher mailed to him after he had become a teacher himself. The story was one that LaRochelle had written when he was in second grade. He read that story to the students, with spelling errors and all.

LaRochelle also stressed that revisions are necessary to stories. He said that he writes and rewrites his stories many times before they end up getting published.

"What I talk about is so much just a reinforcement of what the regular classroom teacher is saying ... I just laugh because I know it's the same thing the teacher is saying but now it's 'oh, the author said we should revise,'" LaRochelle said.

LaRochelle visits about 60 schools a year conducting presentations like the one he did at Kennedy. He said that his visits are a great way to show students that the people who create books in libraries are real people in their neighborhood and it's a viable career for them.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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