It all started more than a dozen years and ten thousand children ago.
“Two of the three “R’s” I grew up with,” says Antil, “are for the written word. We’re getting it all backwards and scaring children from reading, books and libraries that can take their minds anywhere they want to go.”
Best known for his award winning Pompey Hollow Book Club historical fiction series about growing up in the shadows of WWII, author Jerome Mark Antil has never forgotten the note his ninth grade English teacher scratched in the corner of his composition paper.
This is the loveliest autumn I’ve read about.
According to Antil, the mere fact that the same teacher was flunking him in Latin, gave credence to her note on his composition…and inspiration he has never forgotten and now passes on.
“The three R’s are as simple as ABC,” Antil barked.
“We’re getting it all wrong.”
He espoused this to the New York Readers Association as their guest speaker. Antil pointed to the fact that reading and literature basics come best from a knack for, or interest in ‘story telling’ – and therein lies the problem in schools today. “We don’t allow children to tell their stories. If they can’t know the thrill of telling a story and know people will listen, they’ll never relate to how fulfilling reading a book can be. We build these giant, intimidating walls of grammar and spelling and block every ounce of creativity outside the gates.”
“Just tell me a story!” shouted Antil one year. I won’t judge your spelling. I won’t judge your grammar…”
…but you will get recognized. You will be an author!
Year one, for grades K through 5 – there were 130% entries for the story telling ‘writing’ contest. If a child couldn’t write, they were allowed to dictate. Kindergartners were submitting fifty word stories. Antil read every story. He personally picked the winners and honorable mentions by grade and an overall winner. In that year one a third grader walked off with the winning computer for “Best Story in School”.
It’s 2016 now. Jerry Antil has his latest book release coming out this summer. He has outlined his next two books. One a nonfiction novel about his life in marketing and the other another tale in his series…a retro story about a Missing in Action veteran bomber pilot during WWII.
But it’s also spring. And with the spring come more than a thousand stories by story tellers from K through 5…in several schools…and author Antil’s time to ‘give back’.
“I will personally read each story. My wife, Pamela, will read them, as well. We both select the winners. But everyone wins, in a way. They learn the feeling of being listened to.
Not only will they have accomplished a fete heretofore insurmountable because of grammar and spelling mountains – I will read each of their names out loud, the title of their work and ask them to stand and be recognized just for trying,” says Antil.
Seriously dedicated to literacy in schools, Antil donates a book to a school for each book in his series that sells.
“Give them two grades,” says Antil. “One grade for story. Another for grammar. Believe me they will catch up on both in record time.”
Coming June 1:
“My new book, Hemingway, Three Angels, and Me is so important, I will give a free electronic copy of the book to any sixth grade school teacher who emails me from their school requesting it.” email@example.com
“Every child should be read to…every day. They will develop a love for reading this way.” Jerome Mark Antil
Leave A Comment