Jack Gantos visits the Project

The rain was no match for the energy and brightness of Jack Gantos on Tuesday, September 25. This Calendar Day felt different because of the young people filling the halls of Teachers College. Nearly 1,000 students from 24 schools across the tri-state area participated in the day. The morning session with Mr. Gantos was filled with elementary school students, while the afternoon session included middle and elementary school students. In each session, an audience of eager children were kept on the edge of their seats in the Cowin Auditorium by Mr. Gantos as he wove stories from his childhood along with tips for students to use to write their own stories.

Hilarious, detailed adventures with his siblings included the time Mr. Gantos accidentally broke his brothers’ arm during an aerobatic dare and the bickering truce he made with his sister only to be broken by his mischievous antics involving a cockroach. Jack Gantos used these humorous tales to demonstrate how good writing is interwoven with action and emotion.

Students were encouraged to sketch maps of their own neighborhoods and homes. Then, they were invited to revisit these locations in their minds and ask themselves: What happened here? What did I see, overhear, and experience? Jack Gantos taught students how to craft their stories using elements of writing such as characters, setting, problem/situation. And he emphasized the importance of both the physical and emotional ending of stories. The emotional end, Jack Gantos explained, is important to develop as this is what resonates with readers most and forms connections to our shared humanity.

Find out more about Jack Gantos: http://www.jackgantos.com/