Children’s author Terry Markoff visited Melissa Ridge Intermediate in November to speak to teacher Mary Lorenson’s fourth grade students.

A former educator, Markoff shared his personal story with students, delving into his evolution as a writer and reader, and his experiences with the publishing industry. Markoff then answered questions from students. He shared with them his favorite author, when his first book was published, how long it took him to write a chapter and how he relates to specific characters and scenes from his books.

After the talk, students eagerly lined up to purchase one of Markoff’s books and get a personalized autograph.

Lorenson’s students were well-versed in Markoff’s stories; they read “Mr. Funderburk Meets 5A” together as a class and had the opportunity to create visual presentations in small groups, incorporating intricate details from the book, vocabulary words, main ideas and characters.

According to Markoff, publishers doubted the vocabulary in his stories, citing it as too advanced for elementary students, but Lorenson felt strongly that Markoff’s books would resonate with her class because they see “big kid words” as an exciting challenge.

“Not only was the vocabulary great for students to learn, but they were able to make so many connections to the stories,” Lorenson said. “Having Mr. Markoff visit and talk about his experiences in the writing process made it real for the students. They realized, with grit and perseverance, anybody can do anything they put their mind to.”