Author Laurie Halse Anderson

‘A true community project’; WDMCS welcomes NYT best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson on April 24

In partnership with the West Des Moines Public Library and the Rotary Club of West Des Moines, West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is excited to have New York Times-bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson visit the district as part of the WDMCS Reads initiative.

Anderson will be at WDMCS on April 24, speaking with students in grades 5-12 throughout the day and with the public later that evening. She is known for tackling tough subjects—like sexual assault or eating disorders—with humor and sensitivity.

“One of the things I think that is great about this project is that it is a true community project. We are a library for the community,” said Jenna Ehler, children’s librarian at the West Des Moines Public Library. “I also think it is really important to bring in these big nationally-known authors to West Des Moines because we don’t have tons of opportunities to bring in authors like Laurie to the area.

“It is going to be engaging for the students and will be really inspiring.”

Anderson’s work has received numerous international, national, and state awards. She writes for children of all ages and has been nominated three times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Two of her books—”Speak” and “Chains“—were National Book Award finalists. “Chains” also was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

Additionally, Anderson was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award, and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Combined, Anderson’s books have sold more than eight million copies.

“Her writing is really important. She takes on a lot of important topics for teens.” Ehler said. “She handles them with grace and has made really amazing of contributions with her body of work for kids and teens over the length of her career.”

Watch: “Speak” Book Review—WDMCS Reads

In conjunction to Anderson’s visit, WDMCS Community Education is hosting a “Speaking of Consent” workshop on April 30 through ParentQuest—a district program that provides a variety of opportunities for parents and other caring adults as they navigate each child’s path to success in school and life.

The class is designed to continue the conversation inspired by Anderson’s visit, and will explore how beliefs about consent are shaped, how to talk about it an engaging way with your children, and how to ensure it’s a respected value in their relationships. It will be led by Alysa Mozak, a healthy relationship educator with Blossoming Pathways DSM.

“We are excited to offer this compatible learning opportunity for parents,” said Shahna Janssen, director of WDMCS Community Education. “Consent is such an important topic to understand and discuss with our kids, and we hope to equip our parents with additional tools for those conversations.”

Author Visit: Laurie Halse Anderson

  • Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
  • During the day: Students in grades 5-8 and 9-12 will hear her speak live in the Staplin Performing Arts Center or through a livestream broadcast.
  • During the evening: The public is invited to hear her speak at Indian Hills Junior High.  “Speak” and the author’s latest book, “Shout,” focuses on the difficult issue of sexual assault. The recommended minimum age to attend is 13. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend with their students.
  • 6 p.m. – book signing
  • 7 p.m. – speech/Q&A

ParentQuest: “Speaking of Consent”

  • Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
  • Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
  • Location: Learning Resource Center—Fairmeadows Room
  • Cost: Free. Register now (The age requirement for this workshop is 16+)

About WDMCS Reads

WDMCS Reads celebrates the “community” in West Des Moines Community Schools. Spanning portions of West Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, and Windsor Heights, the district invites people from all of our communities to come together to read, ask questions, and share perspectives.