Middle School Hosts Author Alex Gino for Author Series Virtual Discussion
Severn welcomed author Alex Gino this week for a virtual discussion with middle schoolers as part of the Middle School Author Series. Gino is an award-winning author of multiple books including Melissa, Rick, Alice Austen Lived Here and more.
Students who signed up for the discussion received a free copy of the book Alice Austen Lived Here and read it beforehand, so they were prepared to discuss it with Gino. Librarian Whitney Etchison also hosted students for a "donuts and discussion" before school, where they talked about the book, came up with questions for the author visit, and enjoyed some donuts.
During the virtual discussion, Gino told students about themselves and where their ideas for their books came from, specifically the background inspiration for Alice Austen Lived Here. Gino then encouraged students to ask questions, ranging from the writing process to questions about the book. Etchison was grateful for the open discussion between the author and students, and the impact it had on the students. “Alex Gino's openness allowed our students to ask meaningful questions and provided a great example of how to live kindly and respectfully,” said Etchison. “Gino spoke candidly about their experiences as a trans author and the importance of writing books that celebrate and center LGBTQ+ children.”
Gino’s books are somewhat controversial in certain states and districts, with their emphasis on the LGBTQ+ community and the fact that they feature non-binary and trans characters. One Severn student commented “It was an honor to meet them and they have written some amazing books. It is a shame that their books are banned in several states since their writing is very good." Last year, their book Melissa was ranked #14 on the CBS News list of The 50 Most Banned Books in America.
The Middle School Author Series supports budding authors by sponsoring special guest visitors, writers' workshops, community coffee houses, and the student publication, The Admiral's Pen. These experiences give middle school students an authentic opportunity to confidently celebrate their literary voices and those of their peers. Past programs have included visits and workshops with award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Taylor Mali.