Author inspires Tallmadge Middle School students to read, write

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by HOLLY SCHOENSTEIN  |  REPORTER
Tallmadge — Eighth-graders at Tallmadge Middle School have a better understanding about what it takes to be a novelist after a visit from published author Mike Mullin Nov. 15.
Mullin, an Indianapolis native, was in the area promoting “Ashen Winter,” the second book in his trilogy for young adults.
In the first book of the series, “Ashfall,” a supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts and covers a town with ashes. When the power goes out, and the food supply diminishes, people have to find a way to survive. The first book has won a number of awards and made several “can’t miss” lists.
The final book of the trilogy is scheduled for release in the spring of 2014.
The Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson sponsored Mullin’s visit to the middle school, which he made prior to the Hudson booksigning that night.
Mullin took up Tae Kwon Do when he was doing research for the series, and the martial art appears in “Ashen Winter.” During his time at the middle school, he gave a presentation to the eighth-grade class — complete with breaking a brick with a Tae Kwon Do move  — about how the sport is similar to writing in that both require determination.
He also engaged the students with workshops during their language arts classes, where they learned about the writing process, how to come up with ideas for novels and styles of novel writing. Then the students started their own novels.
“Every student leaves with the very beginnings of a novel, and not all of them are going to continue it. In some schools, teachers use that and build on what I started,” Mullin said.
Some students may choose to continue writing their novels on their own, he said.
“We make education so complicated, but it’s really simple. The more you read, the better you get at it. The more you write, the better you get at it,” he said. “So if I can inspire some kids to write some more, that’s all I need to do.”
The Learned Owl Book Shop sold copies of “Ashen Winter” at the middle school, and Mullin signed them for students.
Language Arts Teacher Ann Hagedorn contacted the bookstore when she learned Mullin was scheduled for the booksigning and requested he visit the middle school. She said this is the first time in the 11 years that she’s been teaching at the school that an author has visited.
She said she believes Mullin is going to be “the next big thing.”
“He wants kids to love reading. He likes working with students and answering their questions and showing them how they can be writers and what it’s like to be a writer,” she said.
“A lot of times authors are reserved, but he was so dynamic. He was really engaging,” Hagedorn said.
The strategies Mullin spoke of, Hagedorn noted, such as brainstorming ideas, reinforced what she has taught in the classroom, and his excitement for reading and writing benefited students.
“It was good to be affirmed by a real author,” she said.
Copies of “Ashen Winter” are available for sale at the Learned Owl Book Shop, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Students also may check them out from the middle school library.
Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com
Phone: 330-541-9428

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