It’s not every day students get to meet a published author, but fifth and sixth graders at Clayton Intermediate School did just that on Friday when children’s author Chrysa Smith spoke with the students.

Smith’s visit helped kick off the school’s Read Across America activities.

Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place on March 2 each year to honor Dr. Seuss.

“Read Across America is all about Dr. Seuss and encouraging reading. You can’t read a book without someone else first writing it,” said CIS Principal David Paltrineri.

He said the event was the brainchild of reading specialist Heather Moyer, but he agrees with the purpose of the visit, which is was so students could learn about possible careers in writing.

“You never know, Clayton Intermediate School could have three or four future writers,” Paltrineri said. “This may inspire someone to like to write.”

Moyer said the idea stemmed from her desire to have a true author and publisher come and talk to the kids; therefore, she googled authors that do school visits and Smith’s name came up.

“It’s exciting to see a true author, it’s what Read Across America is all about,” Moyer said. “The kids don’t really write for fun. Here in school writing is more like a choir because it’s required.”

The students at the school attended the event in four sessions. Moyer hopes talking with an author will give students hope and inspire them to write.

Smith’s presentation – Developing Passionate Writing – touched on how writing can be fun.

Smith explained to the students that she never intended on having a career in writing. She studied business in school, but writing always found its way into Smith’s daily workload. Her stint working in the business department of a magazine led to her writing as a permanent job.

Smith said the magazine staff saw her writing ability and gave her a job as an editor. This led to jobs as a freelance writer. It was while watching her dogs interact with one another when she decided to start writing. This decision still took years to manifest; Smith published her first book in 2008. Smith has now published four books in her “The Adventures of the Poodle Posse” series. In her free time, she visits schools to talk with kids.

“I spend quite a bit of time talking with kids. I do visits from October through April,” Smith said. “It’s an unexpected benefit that I enjoy.”

Smith said she independently published 500 copies of her first book to see how things would go; they sold out so she published 1,000 more. She’s currently working on a fifth book for the Poodle Posse series and has an adult book idea in mind for the future.

Through the presentations Friday, Smith reiterated the importance that “words matter.” She did a few writing exercises with the students.

Moyer thinks the presentation went well with the students.

“I’m impressed that she was interacting with the students, which I like,” Moyer said. “The kids seemed to be really receptive of it.”