Lauren Tarshis, author of the I Survived series, visits Meadow Pond!

Many elementary school students have a special connection to George, the boy who was rescued from the Titanic. They feel like they know Lucas, the child who was trapped in New York City while visiting his firefighter uncle on September 11, 2001. And, who could forget Paul, the eleven-year old who lived through D-Day, in 1944?

When the creator of these fictional characters, author Lauren Tarshis, visited Meadow Pond Elementary School, it was both exciting and unbelievable. Students had a lot of questions.

“Students love Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived series,” said Meadow Pond Librarian Nick Grasso. “I can barely keep them checked in the library.”

One of the secrets to the I Survived series’ success is that the books are alternately terrifying and thrilling. Each one conveys captivating historical information and explores aspects of courage through the eyes of a child. They’ve won dozens of awards. 

Students use I Survived books as a springboard to learning more

Tarshis struck up an immediate rapport with the students. Her message: everyone can be a writer—it just takes practice. If anyone was an unlikely candidate to be a writer, it was her, Tarshis divulged. She did not read a book until the ninth grade. Things finally clicked for her in high school.

“I learned that it had nothing to do with me being smart or not—I just had a different way of learning,” said Tarshis.

A chance meeting with J. K. Rowling motivated her to follow her dream of being a writer. Early in her career as an editor at Scholastic, she wrote novel—one that she knew was terrible. About that time, the publishing house signed J. K Rowling’s novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.” When the author visited the New York City office, Tarshis congratulated her on her first novel. Rowling corrected her—it was her third. The other two were conscripted to the bottom of a desk drawer.

“Don’t you think that a person has to write two terrible books before they write a good one?” asked Rowling.

Those words inspired Tarshis to write her second book . . . and she hasn’t stopped since.

Students were delighted to hear what was happening in I Survived series. Tarshis shared news of #19: "The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919," when over two million gallons of molasses poured over a neighborhood of Italian immigrants in Boston’s North End. 

“Where do you get your ideas?” asked one student. 

“From you!” Tarshis replied. “Students and teachers send me their ideas.”

“I travel to each place I write about,” she continued. “I read. I study maps. I don’t want to only give you the facts–I want to tell you a story. After you read my books, I want you to want to know more.”

Thank you, Meadow Pond PTO

Meadow Pond’s Compact Committee—a mix of classroom teachers, teaching assistants, parents, Grasso, Principal Carolann Castellano and Assistant Principal Dawn Pomeroy—requested that Lauren Tarshis visit during the school’s celebration of PARP (Pick a Reading Partner). This event was funded by the Meadow Pond PTO.