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Author speaks to reading class

Posted: July 16, 2008 1:48 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Canyon High School history teacher and author Andrew Smith speaks to students in the all-boys Intensive Literacy Program at Golden Valley High School about his book, "Ghost Medicine." Summer School Administrative Intern Sarah Delawder, left, looks on.

Reading is not just for girls.

That’s what Canyon High School history teacher and author Andrew Smith told a classroom full of boys enrolled in the Hart district’s summer Intensive Literacy Program at Golden Valley High School.

“I’ve taught high school for 15 years now, and I get the impression that high school boys think reading is for girls, and that’s not true,” Smith told the students. “Most authors used to be men, but men don’t write anymore and we need to change that. That’s why we have classes like this one.”

The Intensive Literacy Program is for students in grades seven through 12 who are reading and writing below grade level. The all-boys class introduces the young men to male-based literature, geared toward boys.

This year, the all-boys class has been reading an advanced reader copy of Smith’s book, “Ghost Medicine,” during the read-aloud portion of the day. The book is scheduled to be released Sept. 2.

“It has everything these boys find interesting — a sexy girl, someone getting shot, a ghost,” said Summer School Administrative Intern Sarah Delawder. “As soon as they got to the part about the snake bite, they were hooked.”

After talking to the boys about his book, Smith took questions from the students. Jason Medina wanted to know if Smith had a personal connection to the things that happened in “Ghost Medicine.”

“A lot of the things in the book actually happened to me. I think the only way to write something and make it seem true is to have some of yourself in there,” Smith said. “Just like Troy, I had a brother who died when I was a kid. And that story about the mountain lion that’s in the book? That really happened.”

“Ghost Medicine” is about a group of teenage boys who live in ranch country, and a summer that changed their lives forever. Smith said he wrote the book because he was tired of books for boys always being about magic and dragons.

“I’m really, really not into fantasy at all. I’m more into reality,” Smith said. The Lake Elizabeth resident is currently wrapping up his fourth young adult novel. The next one to be published is set during the Vietnam War.

Seventh grader Korye Ricks said that “Ghost Medicine” was a great book.

“It was awesome and funny and weird,” Korye said. “I liked it when Chase got shot, because he was, like, a mean person and he deserved it.”

Michael Milliken, also a seventh grader, said he would recommend “Ghost Medicine” to his friends.

“It was funny and interesting, and it’s just a good book,” Michael said.

Smith encouraged any potential authors in the class to stay in touch with him via e-mail, and said that he wants to start a group at Canyon High for boys who want to be writers.
“It’s an easy job — at least for me,” he said. “I’m getting paid to make things up.”

Student John Cabrera wanted to know if Smith plans to write a sequel to “Ghost Medicine.”

“Yeah, I might. I think readers will wonder what happens next,” Smith said.


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