Neal Shusterman, a visiting author mixes up the student’s suggested titles in a writing workshop to create uniquely creative titles for storytelling at Yokota Middle School, February 1, 2019. Shusterman has been a successful children’s and young adult fiction writer for 34 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kyle Johnson)
Neal Shusterman, a visiting author mixes up the student’s suggested titles in a writing workshop to create uniquely creative titles for storytelling at Yokota Middle School, February 1, 2019. Shusterman has been a successful children’s and young adult fiction writer for 34 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kyle Johnson)

Award-winning author visits Yokota Middle school, hosts workshop

by Staff Sgt. Kyle Johnson
Yokota Air Base

YOKOTA AB, Japan -- Award-winning Author Neal Shusterman visited Yokota Middle School February 1 to answer questions, sign books and host a creative writing workshop.

Over the course of 34 years, his 52 published books have earned more than 50 awards, including a National Book Award.

“I write because I want to put thoughts out there. I like to pose questions, I don’t like to give answers,” Shusterman said. “The way I see it, the only questions in this world that are worth asking are those that don’t have easy answers.”

Shusterman spent the full day at YMS, with the morning being largely dedicated to a writing workshop. All of the kids who participated in the fully-packed workshop signed up ahead of time, said Annette Holladay, YMS librarian.

In the workshop, Shusterman had the students come up with about 30 random titles spanning from mysterious to downright silly and then had them mix the phrases up to create even more unique titles.

He then guided the students through creating the beginnings of a story for their titles, allowing them to take that framework out of the workshop to fully develop if they wish.

“I’m speaking to the students about reading and writing to get them excited about literature. I hope they can connect with the books that they read,” Shusterman said. “I want them to want to write and understand that writing is an important part of being a human being and everything we do.”

After the workshop, Shusterman held a book signing and large-scale question and answer sessions for 150 students at a time.

“I often hear from schools that the year after they did their first author visit, all the test scores went up. Circulation within the library went up because kids will start reading the books from the author that came and it will turn them on to reading and they’ll become readers.” Shusterman said.

“When you become a reader, it affects everything in your life.”

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