Becky Vansant’s third-grade class enjoyed a special visitor to their Zoom lesson May 8, when children’s book author Jeremy Uhrich tuned in to read his newest picture book.
Uhrich, who teaches eighth grade in Pennsylvania’s Huntingdon Area School District, went to school with Vansant. He spent a few moments speaking with Love Creek Elementary students before reading “Santi’s Slumber Party.”
“This is a unique time,” Uhrich said. “We are in the midst of history, even if it’s not the kind of history we want to be involved in. I’m missing my students and tired of teaching through a computer at a makeshift desk.”
Uhrich said he started writing children’s books about four years ago; he has published four books. His latest concerns protagonist Santi the sloth, whose slumber party is crashed by his sister, Sofia. Santi first wants to exclude her, but his friends said she had good ideas and enjoyed her company.
Eventually, Santi relented. Uhrich said Santi learned patience and how to better get along with his sister. The book contains pictures of all animals portrayed in the story, along with descriptions of each one.
Students asked Uhrich questions about the writing process, how he develops story ideas and how long books take to write, looking for tips in advance of their assignment to write about being a sea creature.
Students joined the lesson from living rooms, patios, cars and bedrooms; even siblings jumped in to hear the story. On Zoom’s chat feature, they wrote messages to the class, saying they miss each other and school.
Uhrich’s final words of advice left children giggling. He told them they could write any time they wanted about anything they wanted. “You can even do it on the toilet,” he said.