Calling All Teachers 2016-2017
SCHOOL VISIT INFORMATION
As a Michigan author and former teacher, I offer a (50-60 minute) presentation to students of grades 4-8, either in a small or large group format. My presentation covers background on the book, the history of the Detroit Riots, an inspirational and motivational message. I also focus on the writing process.
I have delivered my talk to over 8000 students since March 2015. Students come away from my presentation feeling inspired to do good work, both in the classroom and in the rest of their lives. I tailor my visits to meet your students’ needs, whether it be a concentration on reading or writing, and I especially enjoy motivating and inspiring students.
Both of my middle grade/young adult books, Between the Lines and Beyond the Lines are available to schools—teachers, staff, and students for the discounted price of $12 (regular price $14). If you would like me to send you an order form for books prior, please let me know. If I receive orders in advance of my visit, I’m able to bring autographed books with me.
Please find below important information and details Between the Lines.
Between the Lines has won three awards, an Honorable Mention in the 23rd annual Writer’s Digest Middle Grade Historical Fiction, a Silver Medal Award in the 2016 IPPY Multi-cultural category, and recently became a recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award! #friendshipiscolorblind
Priority will be given to teachers who have had me visit previously. If you’d like me to visit in March as a part of March is Reading Month, please be sure to contact me ASAP and reserve your spot. They are going quickly. You can reach me at email@example.com for fee information and other details.
BETWEEN THE LINES
Back Cover Blurb
Between the Lines tells the story of three girls who become friends during the racially-charged aftermath of the 1967 Detroit Riots.
Hattie Percha is crushed when the riots start on her tenth birthday, and when she must move away from her treasured childhood home and friends, attending public school for the first time, she’s afraid her life is over. Then, she meets Beverly Jo Nichols, her first black friend, and Crackers, a fearless tomboy. Despite opposition from Hattie’s mother and a racist teacher, the unlikely friends join forces. As the self-proclaimed Dream Girls, they challenge bigotry and intolerance, willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto what’s most precious to them all, their friendship.
Claudia Whitsitt was a teacher before she became an author. She loves children and smiles every time someone reads one of her books.
Book Excerpt to Share with Students/Staff/Parents
Chapter 6, Between the Lines
I love how we sound, like a jingling tambourine, singsong but with the added steady drum beat of our clapping. For me, it’s like falling asleep to the hum of a fan—mesmerizing.
We study our hands and concentrate on the moves and claps, hesitating at the same moment before we recite the words, “Miss Suzie called the doctor,” smiling at each other and laughing.
When I gaze at her, all I see are her eyes. They are so brown that the whites pop out, and I take another glance. I never examined a colored person up close before. I kept my distance from the ironing lady. She was busy and I didn’t want to bother her. All right, the truth is I was a little afraid of her, for no other reason than she was different from me. But I’m looking at Beverly now. Her skin seems so smooth and even. Mine is full of freckles and kind of splotchy and I have an ugly heat rash. Her hair is shiny and thick, braided and gathered into pigtails, with colored rubber bands near her scalp and on the ends. Mine is curly today, because Mom wound it around Spoolies last night, otherwise it would be poker straight. Beverly is pretty, I decide, mostly because of her straight pearly smile, made even whiter by her brown skin.
“Can I touch your hair?” she asks.
I laugh to myself. I was thinking about touching hers, but was afraid to ask. “If I can touch yours,” I say, spinning around.
Beverly reaches out and gently runs her fingers through the back of my hair. It tickles and makes me feel happy inside.
“I’ve never had a friend with red hair before.” Beverly interrupts my thoughts and I turn around to face her.
Growing up in Detroit, I was always concerned about differences and wanted life to be fair. I’m not sure if I was born this way or if my upbringing rooted this belief in me, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that life is anything but fair. Still, I made it my personal mission to try and help people settle their differences in an equitable manner, and be kind to everyone, no matter how different they were from me.
When the Detroit riots started on my fifteenth birthday, like Hattie, I was devastated. But the riots also cemented this sense of wonder in me. Why couldn’t all people get along?
Crackers, Beverly, and I met in college, and when I came to write a novel for my students, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin than with a story inspired by our true friendship, one that has lasted for over forty years.
Some people would call me naïve, I suppose, but I firmly believe that with the right education, much like Jane Elliot’s diversity training, we could learn to celebrate differences and live together in peace. I’m sure that my sense of fairness, my fascination with learning more about how all of us negotiate the world, and my desire to make a difference led me to teaching and to the field of special education.
Claudia Whitsitt is a former Michigan teacher turned full-time author. To date, she has published seven books. Between the Lines is her first book for middle grade students, Beyond the Lines, the second. She taught for over thirty-seven years and continues to be committed to education of students and creating a passion for reading and writing through her work. You can learn more about Claudia through her website at www.claudiawhitsitt.com.