New Favorite Author

Yesterday my school hosted the author, Jewell Parker Rhodes, virtually. What a treat! On this asynchronous Monday, 65 students remembered to join the TEAMS meeting at 1:30pm and for an hour, she shared about writing Ghost Boys and graciously answered student questions. Many of our 7th graders had read this book in a recent book club unit and many of my 6th graders elevated the book through their votes in our recent March Book Madness to the Elite Eight Round.

HERE is a video of her speaking about Ghost Boys. The same passion seen in that video was seen on our TEAMS call yesterday! She shared how emotionally draining it was for her to write Ghost Boys. She spent 2 1/2 years researching and writing. She explained that her writing process is to hear the character. Then, like an actress, she acts out the parts as she writes. She shared how this process made writing Ghost Boys so hard and depressing. But now, she shared, readers of the book, act as healing for her. “It was worth the effort! Your age group imspires ME! You WILL make the world even better.”

“I was just a little girl when Emmett Till was murdered and I think WHY is this still happening? She explained how she created Sarah, a character with a cultural difference, a good heart, and someone who was curious but not afraid of differences. The perfect ally.

During our hour, she asked us to watch this video of present day allies, making a powerful Public Service Announcement. WOW! SO moving! This film was directed by Kiri Laurelle Davis. More info can be found here: and @JustUsProject.

Yesterday afternoon, I also made a quick trip to Barnes and Nobel to buy Ghost Boys and her newest, Black Brother, Black Brother. She shared how she is married to a white man. Her daughter looks more like him. Her son looks more like her. Inspired by her own children’s experience, this novel explores how the world sees two brothers differently because of their different skin tones. I’ll read these books and as she suggested, ask how I can bear witness, now that I have met issues through her books. My hope is that once I know more, I can do better.

Have you read any Jewell Parker Rhodes books?
If not, I highly recommend adding her to your upcoming summer reading list!

5 thoughts on “New Favorite Author

  1. amyjuengst says:

    What a wonderful presentation to round out our year of author virtual visits during a pandemic. Dr. Rhodes’ powerful and enlightening spirit was inspiring. She epitomizes what it means to choose love over hate, even when it is difficult to do so! Thanks so much for sharing Sally!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    Thanks for sharing this experience. I’ve read Ghost Boys with 2 of my fifth graders. They loved it and we’ve had great conversations about it. I’ll show them the videos you suggested. Jewel Parker Rhodes intrigues me. She has written 2 novels set in Louisiana, where I live. Did I read that she lives (or lived) here? I’d love to meet her someday. Authors are my heroes.


  3. sallydonnelly11 says:

    She joined us virtually from Seattle, WA. She moved the camera to show the view out her window of Lake Union with lots of boats on the water and had a lovely vase of flowers on her desk. She said. “I like to have beauty around me when I write.” However, she did mention writing a book after Hurricane Katrina so she must have visited your state. Not sure if she lived there before? She is definitely my hero and spoke so well to our student audience!!


  4. Denise Krebs says:

    Sally, what a great recap of the author visit with Jewell. It sounds like a great experience. Thank you for all the links. I have read Ghost Boys. Such a tragic subject that should be in the past, but still plagues our country. Thank you for sharing.


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