ASH Elementary School Welcomes First Visiting Author of the School Year

“No matter how inspired you are about a story, don’t assume that you know the whole thing. Don’t assume that you know the true story. Do your research, and when you start your research the most important thing is to keep moving forward.”

On Monday, we welcomed our first visiting author of the year, Mr. Chris Barton. Elementary school students listened to his latest non fiction picture book, ‘Moving Forward’ (2022), about Mr. Alton Yates, and his contributions to space travel and the Civil Rights Movement.

Our students asked a great many questions about the life of Mr. Yates, about the work of Mr. Barton as an author, and there were more than a few questions about his dog too. Ernie, after all, knows how to play the piano.

After a full day of working with our students, Chris still made time to answer some of our questions:

During your presentation our elementary students students grew to care about Alton Yates. How do you connect children (or just people really) to topics that are removed from their daily reality?

Chris: "I’ve found that the key to connecting readers with Alton Yates and other subjects — not necessarily well-known — in my biographies is to provide enough details about that person’s life and circumstances that readers can relate to them and get a sense of what that subject has in common with the reader or with someone the reader knows. And then I try to provide a clear sense of the challenging decisions faced by those subjects. If I can accomplish those things, it’s not so big a leap from “What did Alton do?” to “What would I do?”"

What is a remarkable thing about working with students?

Chris: "Everybody has a favorite thing, and I love finding out my audiences’ favorites — not just for the endless variety, but also because of the equally endless variety of stories those students could create when writing about their favorite things. It’s exciting and inspiring!"

Do you have one piece of advice for students who aspire to become authors?

"Find or form a writing community — even if it’s just one other person that you share or create stories with. Nothing has ever made writing more fun for me, or given me greater motivation to keep going — it was true for me in elementary school, and it’s true for me today." 


Chris Barton has a website with introductions to all of his books: