Alaskan children's author speaks at area schools
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Shelley Gill is getting kids in Alabama and across the country fired up about reading and creative writing.
Gill, author of 17 published children's books, visited schools across Morgan County last week to share stories about her life in Homer, Alaska and to encourage students to write about their own experiences.
"I was born in New Mexico and raised in southern Florida," Gill said.
"I grew up reading Jack London books and became bound and determined to become a dogsled driver. I moved to Anchorage in 1978 and did just that."
After a career in journalism, Gill moved to her current residence in Homer to write children's books about her experiences and adventures in dogsledding and competing in the Iditarod, Alaska's famous dogsled track from Anchorage to Nome.
"My daughter, who is also very adventurous, has given me many ideas for books as well," Gill said. "We travel around the world through her participation in technical climbing."
However, Gill said adventure is not the sole theme of her books.
She also conveys to young readers a sense of responsibility to the environment and nature.
"Kids can't fix what they can't comprehend," Gill said. "When I come to speak to students who have read my books, I encourage them to think creatively in order to fix the problems around us and write about it as well. Children have a connection to the natural world that needs to be nurtured."
Gill's first stop in Morgan County was at Hartselle's Barkley Bridge Elementary School. Each grade received one of Gill's books to share with the entire school through life-size visual hallway displays.
"This school has done a particularly good job preparing for my visit," Gill said. "Not only did the students create all of this great artwork, but they also studied the geography and culture of Alaska. They even learned the Alaska state song and sang it for me. It's great when you can see that a school has truly used your book as a learning tool, not just a source of entertainment."
While in Alabama, Gill also visited school in Troy and Opelika.