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Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between – a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.
I’m your host, Corrina Allen – an elementary school teacher in Central New York and mom of two daughters – a 9 year old and a just turned 12 year old. Yesteday we celebrated her birthday with the most amazing cake – white with whipped cream frosting and layers of cannoli filling and raspberry filling inside. And just in case you are wondering – no, I did not make it. But if you live near a Wegmans, you can order one!
This is episode #71 and today and I’m sharing with you a conversation with Alyson Gerber – author of Braced and the recently released Focused. Her latest novel is about a gutsy, chess-loving, 7th grader named Clea who is learning to cope with her ADHD.
So….do you know that slightly disorienting feeling you have when you are looking out a window & suddenly the lights shifts, your perspective shifts, and you realize you are seeing your OWN reflection? That is the experience I had when reading Focused. Like so many other people, Dr. Rudine Bishop’s analogy of books as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors has always resonated with me. And I picked up Focused anticipating that I would get a window into the experiences of a young girl with ADHD – that it would help me become a better, more empathetic teacher. And while Focused absolutely did that – it also helped dispel a lot of the misconceptions I had about ADHD, particularly how it tends to manifest in girls and women. And launched me on a path to discovering that I have ADHD. I opened Focused thinking I was reading a window book – and it turned into a mirror book for me.
I know that books can change minds and can change lives. But rarely has a novel changed my life for the better so completely and so soon. And by extension – the lives of my family and students. And when that happens – you just have to let the author know! And so, I emailed Alyson and thanked her and asked her to come on the show to talk about Focused, chess, her experiences with ADHD, her writing process, and so so much more.
Take a listen.
Interview Outline – Alyson Gerber
For our listeners who have not yet read the Focused, can you tell us a bit about it?
In what ways is Clea’s situation and experiences similar to your own and in what ways did you angle her story so that it was different from your own?
Another thing that I think you do masterfully in Focused is how you show Clea’s relationship with her therapist evolving over time from her denial and distrust to an eventual positive relationship. I think so many kids can benefit from that peek inside a therapist’s office…
Is the testing you describe Clea doing things you’ve experienced or did you do some research to get those aspects of the story right?
One of the other parts of the story that really rang true were the conversations around medication…
One of the things that made me fall so hard for this book was the CHESS! My husband and daughters are all big chess players though not competitively. Do you play?
So…. there is some romance in this story!!
Your Writing Life
What are you working on now?
My students and kids are always eager to hear writing advice from authors. What’s a tip or trick that you’ve picked along the way that has helped your writing?
Is there a piece of feedback that you got that changed Focused?
Your Reading Life
One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special person who helped launch your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference?
What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? What do you hope that readers take away from reading Focused?
Alyson’s website – http://alysongerber.com
Alyson on Twitter – @AlysonGerber
Alyson on Instagram – @alysongerber
Alyson on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AlysonGerberBooks
Resources about ADHD:
Books & Authors We Chatted About:
The Science of Breakable of Things (Tae Keller)
Merci Suarez Changes Gears (Meg Medina)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
The Serpent’s Secret (Sayantani DasGupta)
Eventown (Corey Ann Haydu)
Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated.
Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com
Talk with you soon! Bye!
Corrina Allen is a 5th grade teacher in Central New York and mom of two energetic tween girls. She is passionate about helping kids discover who they are as readers.