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Five Questions With...Anna Myers (Tumbleweed Baby)

by April Hall
 | Jun 18, 2015

Anna Myers was a longtime teacher before entering the literary world as an author. She continues to influence classrooms with her books, and most recently released Tumbleweed Baby, one of her most personal to date, based on a story her brother used to tell her.

You seem to have been a storyteller and author since you were a little girl. Who encouraged you in your passion?

My mother and father were both storytellers. They grew up as neighbors in the hills of eastern Oklahoma and told stories always about what happened in those hills. My five older siblings read to me constantly because that was the only way I would give them peace to read. They read aloud whatever they were reading to themselves. I fell early under the Power of Story.

How do you think teaching and writing books is connected for you?

I always wanted to write, but it was teaching that convinced me that kids are the most important audience in the world. I had gone back to teaching after my own children went to school before I got serious about writing. When that time for being serious came, it was obvious to me that I must write for kids.

It sounds like Tumbleweed Baby was a long time in the making. Why did you write it now?

I believe a writer tells the story that begs to be told. I was teaching at a writers’ conference when I told a group of attendees about my birth in west Texas and my older brother’s claim that he had found me in a tumbleweed. One of the women put up her hand and said, “Tumbleweed Baby, that’s a picture book.” Suddenly, the story began to beg to be told. 

What is the role of picture books versus chapter books in the classroom; is it solely about reading level?

No, I frequently used picture books in my secondary classroom. There is no easier way to show plot, characterization, conflict, etc., than through picture books. Also, the older kids enjoyed the funny and often poignant stories. Good stories are ageless.

Your session at the ILA 2015 Conference refers to “textual lineage.” Can you describe what that means?

No, I am not as smart as my fellow panelist. My part will be to talk about the Power of Story. Story, I believe, has a power second only to love, and we would know so much less about love without story. However, I have heard my friends talk about “textual lineage,” and I find the subject fascinating. I look forward to learning with the audience and after the session will feel confident enough to talk about it.

Myers will copresent Saturday, July 18, at the ILA 2015 Conference in St. Louis. Entitled “Transforming Lives Through the Power of Story: Helping Students Build a Textual Lineage,” the session will share the power of story from the multiple perspectives of reader, teacher, and author. Teacher educators will provide information about research and best practices for engaging students in and out of the classroom. Visit the ILA 2015 Conference website for more information or to register.

April Hall is editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for about 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.

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