Since its inception in 1988, the Visiting Author program has brought celebrated children’s authors into classrooms throughout Iowa City. Every year, an author is selected as the featured guest and spends a week traveling to area elementary schools, presenting about his or her experiences as a writer. The program rotates annually between grades 1-2, 3-4, & 5-6, giving students of all ages the opportunity to meet and learn from published authors. Visiting authors from years past have included Grace Lin, Peter Brown, and Jacqueline Davies.
This year, more than 2,000 5th and 6th grade students from 20 Iowa City elementary schools had the privilege of meeting children’s book author Delia Ray. Delia is the first local author to be chosen for this honor. This distinction immediately connected with students; many of the ideas for her stories come from familiar landmarks, including the Herbert Hoover Library, Oakland Cemetery, and Muscatine Pearl Button Museum.
Although Delia lives in Iowa City today, she spent her childhood growing up in a historic Virginia farmhouse. When she was a child, Delia, along with her sister and cousin, formed “The Brave Girls Club.” The girls would dare each other to complete challenges, like exploring spooky abandoned houses. Instead of being scared, Delia found herself fascinated by the old newspapers, discarded belongings, and photos. These experiences helped to shape Delia’s style as a writer and researcher. Many of her books weave together history, mystery, and adventure.
In her presentation to the 5th and 6th grade students, Delia described her editing process and showed them pictures of the treehouse she visits when she gets writer’s block. She also explained what inspired and influenced three of her stories: Ghost Girl, Here Lies Linc, and Finding Fortune. Students excitedly perked up when they recognized the books she was describing.
An Inspiring Message
Delia encouraged students to pay close attention to small details and to look for writing material in everyday life. She often spends months researching a topic, interviewing experts, and mulling over ideas while crafting a story. Delia’s inquisitive nature is contagious and students came up with lots of questions to ask her. She left them with a cliffhanging sneak preview of the topic for her next book. We can’t wait to read it!
The students loved their new t-shirts featuring the Black Angel statue, a central focus in Delia’s Here Lies Linc.
5th & 6th grade students across the District enjoyed Visiting Author Delia Ray this week thanks to the ICCSD Foundation and Hills Bank. pic.twitter.com/kx5LY9FfJ3
— Iowa City Schools (@IowaCitySchools) October 28, 2016
— Darla (@dkkraske) October 28, 2016
— T.J. Craig (@CraigDistCoach) October 26, 2016
— Amber A. Daubs (@aadaubs) October 24, 2016
— Jeremy Negus (@twaintigers) October 27, 2016
If you’re a teacher or your child saw Delia Ray, share some favorite moments with us about her experience in the comments below.The Visiting Author Program is cosponsored by Hills Bank and Trust Company and The Iowa City Community School District Foundation (ICCSD Foundation).