Zetta Elliott has had a love of reading for many, many years, and her appearance on Nov. 3 at Blytheville Elementary School was to share that love of reading with the students with the hope that it would rub off on them. As Cynthia McCustion noticed, the students were not the only ones who caught that love of reading; a lot of the teachers did too.

Dr. Elliott, from Brooklyn, N.Y., spent a couple of hours at the BES library talking to the students about reading and then answered a few questions. She was brought to Blytheville by Dr. Dixie Keys, president of the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, where she was the featured author at the Arkansas Curriculum Conference earlier in November in Little Rock.

Elliott, who grew up outside Toronto but has been living in the United States for the past 20 years, also spent time with the students at Blytheville Primary and Blytheville High School.

McCustion, the school’s literacy facilitator, stated that Elliott visited the students through Arkansas State University’s Educational Renewal Zone program. Ninety BES students listened to Dr. Elliott, and each will receive a copy of her book “The Magic Mirror” courtesy of ASU. “She shared her journey to becoming an author and provided the students sneak previews of her many books,” said McCustion.

“The students’ faces and smiles were a delight to watch as they were highly engaged hanging onto Dr. Elliott's words. She was an excellent story teller and captivated our students by sharing some of her life experiences, which so many of them could relate to. She left our students with a feeling of hope and inspiration.”

“I’ve loved sharing my books with the kids at BES, and I hope that they will become as excited about reading as I am,” said Elliott. “I am also thankful to have met the teachers of this school, and hopefully helped the students to be exposed to the different books that are available to them.”

A writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels and stories for children, Elliott earned her PhD in American Studies from New York University in 2003. She has also taught in such places as Ohio University, LSU and New York University. Her award-winning books have included “Bird”, “A Wish After Midnight”, “Ship of Souls” and “The Deep.” Her book “Room in my Heart”, written in 2000, was named Best Children’s Book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan.

“I was thrilled to have had the opportunity for Blytheville Elementary students to meet renowned author Zetta Elliott,” commented principal Chanda Walker. “Our students were able to make personal connections to her stories as she shared her love for reading and the process for book publishing.”