On Nov. 2, author Lesa Cline-Ransome and author/illustrator James Ransome visited Southgate Elementary to share their books and experiences as author/illustrators with students, teachers and staff. Lesa and James met in college at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York more than 25 years ago and together, they have written and illustrated 11 books, including, Young Pele, Soccer’s First Star, Satchel Paige, Quilt Alphabet, and Freedom’s School. During their presentation, Lesa read from her book, Light in the Darkness, a dramatic story about how slaves had to learn how to read and write in secret in a “pit school” to avoid punishment.
James Ransome has illustrated 54 books and earned two Coretta Scott King Awards as well as other awards and recognition for his books. He illustrated the Reading Rainbow book, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, a book that is often used in schools’ curricula on the Underground Railroad.
As part of their presentation, James called on several students and demonstrated that all students can learn how to illustrate.
In library classes leading up to their visit, there were activities to familiarize all of our students in kindergarten through grade 6 with the books by the Ransomes. Students in grades 2 – 6 were assisted in preparing a question for the Ransomes and their thoughtful questions were posted outside and inside the library for the author/illustrators to see. Examples include, “Did you ever disagree with your editor’s comments?”, “How do you do you research your topics?” and “How do you choose the art media for each book you illustrate?”
Southgate students enjoyed learning about the creative process from Lesa and James. Their books provided the opportunity to explore some important topics in library, such as slavery, the building of the Empire State Building, biographies on famous African Americans, and the Great Migration.