Photo courtesy of Mrs. Paula Jones
On November 8th, 39 students, including myself, took a field trip to Kutztown University, expecting to hear author Jonathan Auxier to talk about his writing process. Instead, we were given a lesson about the brutal history of child chimney sweeps.
Jonathan Auxier is a New York Times Bestselling children’s author, known for books such as The Night Gardener, Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, and Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. While he spoke about his other books, Sweep was most spoken about, as he told us he’s been writing it for ten years. He explained the brutality of child labor, and that child labor laws were put into place because of child chimney sweeps. He told us about the horrible lives they lived, how little they were paid, their difficult job, and finally, worst of all, what happened when they were stuck. Auxier explained how us children should be thankful for these chimney sweeps, and that we should think about what others have done in the past to aid the future.
Lengel student, Kylie Morris said her favorite part was when Auxier explained how he became an author.
Auxier spoke about how he was previously an art student, and that he didn’t start writing until later in his life. He also showed us his skills with a yo-yo, and explained how yo-yo tricks were one of his jobs when he was younger. He answered many questions about his writing process as well. He answered a young author who asked for advice, “Always finish what you’ve started, or else you’ll only ever have a bunch of beginnings. You cannot call yourself an author unless you’ve finished your story, even if it’s the first draft.”
When Auxier’s presentation was finished, our group walked around the Kutztown campus, and went to the academic forum, where classes are held, and students relax, study, and eat. It was quite interesting to see a tiny bit of what college is like, as students rushed to and from classes, and sat constantly studying. The last place we went to was a student store which contained textbooks, art supplies, school supplies, and college merchandise. There was a wide variety of textbooks, ranging from law studies to biochemistry, and for being so expensive, I wonder how much they are truly used.
Overall, Teen Read Day gave the students a glimpse of college life, and some great advice from an author that will stick with me, “Always finish what you started.”