Meg Medina Visits MNPS Students

Youth Literature Ambassador Meg Medina Talks Books and Gets Tips from MNPS Students
Posted on 09/12/2023
Author on stage with students at literary event

One of the nation’s most accomplished authors of children’s books came to Nashville to get reading recommendations from an expert audience: MNPS students.

Meg Medina, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, brought her reading initiative “Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books” to hundreds of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from J.E. Moss, Mt. View and Westmeade elementary schools Tuesday morning. A student from each of the three schools appeared on stage with Medina at Lipscomb University and talked about their favorite books. author Meg Medina

Medina, the first Latina to be appointed to her post by the Library of Congress, named her initiative “Cuéntame!” after the Spanish word that means “So tell me.” She said “book talking” means the most when shared with people we care about.

“When we tell each other about a book we love, it’s a lot more than just about the book,” said the author of the Newbery Medal-winning “Merci Suárez Changes Gears” and numerous other books. “You’re also telling me a little bit about you. And when my friend says, ‘Oh my goodness, Meg, you have to read this book, because’ and they tell me the reason, I give that book a chance, because I trust them."

Talking about Books

The students, or cuentistas (storytellers), came prepared. Christopher Martinez, a fifth-grader at Westmeade, recommended the adventure story “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen and “A Rover’s Story” by Jasmine Warga.

Keyaela Chatman, who is in fourth grade at J.E. Moss, sang the praises of “Bad Sister” by Charise Mericle Harper and “Narwhal and Jelly” by Ben Clanton.

And Maria Cisneias Diaz, a fourth-grader from Mt. View, recommended “Shark Lady” by Jess Keating and “The Babysitters Club” by Ann M. Martin.

“I rate this book five stars, because it really entertained me,” Maria said.

“That’s a great book talk!” Medina responded.

Pushing Through Failure

Medina said a teacher first praised her writing when she was 9 and still known as Margaret after she wrote a poem about pollution. The compliment made her feel seen, and she encouraged teachers to understand how they can make students see themselves in new ways.

She said she wrote her first book when she was 40 after making the big decision to quit her previous job, and it didn’t sell many copies. But she kept at it and eventually succeeded.

“Sometimes you’re going to fail at the beginning,” she told the students. “Sometimes you’re not going to do the thing the very best the first time you do it. But that’s never a reason to stop if it’s something that really matters to you.”

Medina also is scheduled to give a public talk for book lovers of all ages at Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., at 6 p.m. today.

three students sitting on couch on stage



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