Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Author Highlights Book Fair

Alethea Kontis Visit and BAM Book Fair 
Fuel Excitement for Reading and Writing

For bestselling author Alethea Kontis (a.k.a., Princess Alethea), visiting schools isn't just about selling her books. It's about promoting literacy and inspiring teenagers to persevere through what could very well be one of the most trying periods of their lives.

Notoriously, middle school is an age in which students everywhere experience universal complexities which can seem unequivocally daunting and hopelessly difficult to go throughuntil they talk with others who have overcome similar challenges.

Princess Alethea draws from her own personal experiences in relating to students. "Middle school is super, super tough for kids," she said. "I was really popular in the 5th grade. When I got into the 6th grade, my best friend 'broke up with me' and suddenly I had no friends. It was really, really hard."

By encouraging students to keep believing in themselves and to stay true to their dreams, Princess Alethea helps make life easier and brighter for students.

"Middle school is very pivotal but it was also the worst experience of my life. That's why I like visiting schoolsparticularly middle schools. I write the books that I would have liked to read when I was 12. I am the person now who I wanted to be when I was 12, so in a sense, it was a happy ending for me."

For two days, Princess Alethea visited the Books-a-Million Book Fair at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School and signed books for student. She made a lot of connections with students, who found her easy to talk to about books, writing, and the middle school experience. "I'm BFF's with everybody," she said.

With her signature smile, Princess Alethea signed personalized copies of her books for students who were eager to read titles such as Enchanted, Dearest, and Hero

"Princess Alethea is very nice," said Adrianna Patracone, a 7th grader. "Her books sound very interesting. Some of the characters in her books are actually based off of some of her siblings, which seems funny."

"It was cool meeting the author," said Sara Flanigan, an 11th grader. "I really want to read her books."

When students have the rare opportunity to meet a successful author, it is common for them ask questions about how to become a published author down the road. What advice does the author have for young, aspiring writers? "Never stop writing," she said. "I wish I had written more when I was younger."

At the Books-a-Million Book Fair, students had a chance to view a wide selection of books covering a variety of subjects, genres, and topics. 

In addition to signing books and speaking to students about writing and the middle school life in the Media Center during the book fair, Princess Alethea also visited students in Mrs. Lorie Marshall's reading class to share her enthusiasm for reading.

"My students asked a lot of good questions," said Mrs. Marshall, who is Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School's Teacher of the Year. "They were really curious about how she got her story ideas. She took the time to explain where a lot of her ideas come from and how she goes about writing her stories."

The fiery enthusiasm Princess Alethea feels for her characters and stories is transparent in the way she exhibits elaborate costumes complete with a glowing dress, glittery face paint, and a magnetic smile as she brings her characters to life in front of students.

"I thought a lot about the author's visit and her approach with the students," said Mrs. Marshall. "I feel like if authors got into their characters as much as Princess Alethea does, then more kids would buy into the idea that reading is fun."

Students in Mrs. Lorie Marshall's reading class enjoyed a surprise visit from bestselling author Alethia Kontis. "It was fun visiting Mrs. Marshall's class," said Princess Alethea.

Princess Alethea's visit and the book fair was made possible by Mrs. Carol Manders, the Event Coordinator of Books-a-Million in the Brevard area. "It's a lot of fun doing book fairs," she said. "I have a love of reading and I like to share it with others. My favorite part is the interaction with the kids and being able to introduce them to new authors and titles."

Books-a-Million offers an extensive selection of books which appeal to readers of all ages, reading levels, and interests. "After students pass the Scholastic Book Fair age, there isn't really anything out there to fill the need, especially at the high school level," said Mrs. Manders. "I believe in Books-a-Million being part of the community."

"I love book fairs," said Bryce Davis, a 7th grader. "There are tons of chapter books offered."

Proceeds from the book fair also allows the Media Center to add a wider selection of books to offer for student checkout. "There are such a bigger variety of books available at the junior senior high school level library," said Bryce. "I've read triple the amount of books at Space Coast Jr./Sr. than I read in elementary school."

The life of a teenager isn't always easy, but when it comes to getting excited about reading and writing, a visit from a bestselling author coupled with a book fair certainly helps shine light on their world.

To learn more about Alethea Kontis and her books, visit her website.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

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