Year of the book

Author visit takes students around the world

Staff Photo by Hannah LaClaire Terry Farish talks to students about descriptive language and the importance of details

NASHUA – New Hampshire based author Terry Farish wants children to know that their stories are “more important than anything.”

“Your stories are the world, write (them) down,” she told fourth graders at Dr. Crisp Elementary School. “You are the stories.”

Farish visited students Friday as part of the Year of the Book, a grant opportunity from the Children’s Literacy Foundation that, along with other incentives and author visits, allows children to take home 10 books of their very own over the course of the year. This is a cause Farish herself deeply values.

“To have books as companions is one of the greatest gifts we can give children as they grow up,” she said.

Her book, “Luis Paints the World,” which she read to fourth and fifth grade, tells the story of a family coping after their oldest son leaves for military sadness. Luis, a young boy, paints his understanding of his brother’s experiences as they are told to him.

“It’s a story about saying goodbye,” Farish told the students. “It’s also a story about flan.”

Luis’s Spanish-speaking family is not Farish’s only experience with writing about diversity. The book she read to second and third grade, “Joseph’s Big Ride” is about a boy from Sudan and his friendship with a girl from the Dominican Republic; her books for adults also often reflect refugee and immigrant experiences.

These are important stories to tell, this “journey across cultures.”

When Farish was younger, she took a job at the Red Cross in Vietnam during the war. There, she met many people from different walks of life, and saw many of their transitions back to the United States.

While they were unique and had their own experiences, she also notices “so many commonalities,” she said, and suddenly it was “hard not to see that our world is so small.”

Nashua is no exception, with a growing immigrant and refugee population.

“It’s important for kids to see their cultures celebrated,” she said.

Writing about other cultures make it easier to broaden horizons and explore the world, she explained.

“Books are a safe way to get to meet people who may look different or talk different, but if you can read a story about them you can know them.”

That is part of the reason she enjoys her work through CLiF, putting books in the hands of children who may not otherwise have them.

Above all else, she said she hopes her visit helped the students “be alive and feel joy.”

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com