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Invited to SJSwrites Author Panel Discussion

I was invited by Shani Smith, host for the Children & Youth Author Discussion Panel event last Thursday (Sept 29th), to speak about our roles as authors to the youth community. 

Today, the recording for the discussion panel was posted on Shani’s YouTube channel (SJSwrites) and I wanted to share some thoughts about my experience.

This event was the first panelist invite since becoming an author. Although I’ve done several virtual workshops at local schools, been invited to podcasts, and even got interviewed one-on-one, being on a panel with other authors was a new experience. I was excited about the opportunity because who doesn’t enjoy speaking with other like-minded individuals, especially on a topic I’m quite passionate about.

The panel included myself and 4 other authors: Dr. Yvonne JohnsonDr. Sonya JohnsonIan Parks, and Violet Lemay. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them and to learn about their contributions to the youth community. Despite each of us having our own reasons for starting our writing career, what tied us all together was our motivation to educate, inspire, and entertain the youth community. I highly suggest you all follow these other authors on their journeys and to check out some of their work. You’ll definitely be glad that you did.

Youth literacy is something I’ve been promoting for many years. Since my high school days, I’ve spent many hours volunteering at daycares and local schools to assist in libraries, classrooms, and one-on-one. In most of these opportunities, I served the role to strength student growth and development. 

School often has a preconceived notion of being “not cool.” Similarly, books also fall under this same umbrella classification. However, what exactly is “cool”? 

Well, from my experience in working with young children, their definition of “cool” (or what some like to call nowadays, “dope”) is completely different from an adult’s definition of “cool.” So, as youth authors, I feel it is our responsibility to show them how “cool” reading and writing can be. A tough task, but something we as authors should strive to achieve. Once we can find a way to connect with youth, then can we show them the true power of books.

The panel had an intimate discussion and the question that stood out the most for me was the status of youth literacy today and what can be done to motivate and encourage children to pick up books. 

Sonya started off the discussion on this question by bringing up points from her own experience as an educator. She noticed that many children nowadays write as though they are speaking (or text messaging), which is likely due to the exposure of social media. Ian brought this one step further by stating that technology is the biggest issue when it comes to development. Our brains absorb information better on paper than on the computer. So, with the cultural shift of everything going electronic, this has influenced the way youth are developing today. 

My thoughts were on a similar wavelength, but I felt that youth writing has taken a step back due to technology because children feel no motivation to learn how to spell with the wonderful (but dangerous) autocorrect function on computers. However, Violet and Yvonne were more positive on this outlook, mentioning that social media can be used to motivate children to read because they naturally gravitate to this medium. 

What I enjoyed most about being involved in a discussion panel was learning others’ opinions on a topic because oftentimes, others would see things in a different perspective that you’d never considered before.

For those who’ve been following me for a while, you are well aware that I can talk about this topic in length. I actually wrote about it on Medium recently, so please check out my article if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

You can watch the full recording of the panel discussion on Shani’s YouTube Channel here. Also, check out Shani’s website to learn about her books. She wrote a really amazing one on introverts that I would recommend to those interested in the topic.

3 thoughts on “Invited to SJSwrites Author Panel Discussion”

  1. I appreciate you sharing your experience about the Children and Youth Authors Panel Discussion. It was a pleasure moderating it and I look forward to hosting other thought-provoking panel discussions and future one-on-one in-depth interviews with amazing authors.

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