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Nationally Acclaimed Author Jacqueline Woodson Inspires Ritenour Middle School Students

Nationally acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson inspired Ritenour Middle School seventh-graders on Oct. 15, 2023 during a special visit that also included signed copies of her latest book, “Remember Us.”

Ms. Woodson is renowned for her powerful storytelling and contributions to literature for readers of all ages. Her accolades include the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Award, and the National Book Award. 

During a special assembly, Ms. Woodson shared her personal journey as a writer, the inspiration behind her books, and the importance of writing in the lives of young people. In addition to reading an excerpt engaged with students, answering questions about her writing journey and sharing her thoughts on being a writer. 

“Ms. Woodson’s ability to connect with readers about difficult subjects is unmatched,” said Carin Rook, the RMS librarian who organized the visit. “Her use of words that are clear and specific makes even hard subjects and situations understandable and manageable. We are very grateful to the Noble Neighbor for providing this opportunity!"

Many students were eager to ask her questions, but time ran out before calling on all those with their hands raised. Instead, she promised those students that she would send an audio response if they emailed her their questions.

Her inspiring words encouraged our students to embrace their unique experiences and pursue their dreams, no matter their reading pace or background. She said although she was a slow reader growing up, she knew she wanted to be a writer since she was 7 years old. 

"If you survive kindergarten, you have enough to write about for the rest of your life," Woodson said. 

But when asked by a student if she thought writing was difficult, Woodson said, “The hardest part of writing is rewriting and finishing.”

Following the special assembly, Woodson met with student leaders and signed additional copies of some of their favorite books she wrote.

To date, The Noble Neighbor has gifted over 12,000 free books to kids across the greater St. Louis region and hosted over 65 author visits.

"Every child should have access to books and the authors who write them, regardless of their zip code," said Sara Howard, Executive Director of The Noble Neighbor. "Jacqueline Woodson writes books that help kids see and understand themselves and others. And when they get the chance to meet and talk with an extraordinary author like her, it can open up whole new worlds, empowering our children to envision and explore entirely new possibilities for their life that they may not have ever considered."