Author reads to kids at Marysville's Pinewood Elementary

MARYSVILLE — School is out for summer, but the school library at Pinewood Elementary is open for business.

Pinewood’s “Hang Out and Read” weekly program received a boost in its second week from area children’s author Trudi Trueit, who stopped by June 30 to read from her latest book.

The library is open Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon through Aug. 25 to partner with local public libraries in providing kids with a place to read and check out more books. Trueit contacted Pinewood Elementary teacher and librarian Shelley Doty after she saw a news story about “Hang Out and Read,” and on June 30, she followed her reading by signing books and talking with children and parents alike.

Marysville mom Julie Roberts and her 11-year-old daughter, Lily, were already fans of Trueit’s “No Girls Allowed” and “Secrets of a Lab Rat” series of books, so even though they’d seen her in person before, they were still excited to attend one of her readings.

“They’re written in a way that kids love,” Julie Roberts said. “Parts of them are gross, and parts of them are funny, and they just really speak to kids. I love them too.”

Among Lily Roberts and the other children who were waiting to have their books signed, the consensus was that the humor of Trueit’s writing was a big draw for them.

Trueit’s fiction-writing career began with the 2005 publication of the first book in her “Julep O’Toole” series, and since then, she’s written six fiction books to follow the 55 non-fiction books she’d already written.

“I draw on my own childhood, and on the kids that I meet,” said Trueit, who started out as a journalist 25 years ago. “I liked to read at that age, and I like writing about kids who are fun and articulate and interesting and have adventures. They learn a little something about themselves, the world and life, but it’s not overly message-driven.”

Trueit is conscious of how well her young readers respond not only to humor, but also to what she sees as an honesty of portrayal in her child characters.

“Kids want to read about kids who are true and like themselves,” Trueit said. “My characters are smart and strong, but they also make mistakes. As a girl, I was always looking for girls or boys like me in books.”

Trueit cited a statistic that as many as 80 percent of young readers are girls as her reason for reaching out to boys in her books, even as she noted that it’s not always commonplace for a female author to write books about and for boys.

“Boys and girls share a lot of the same dreams and goals, and will learn a lot of the same lessons,” Trueit said. “I try my best to write for my audience, even if it’s not always what their parents might want them to read,” she laughed, acknowledging the moments of gross-out humor in her writing.

Doty expressed her gratitude to Trueit for taking part in “Hang Out and Read,” and explained that the program has been running for five years.

“I know a lot of these kids already, so I know what they read and I can match the right books to them,” Doty said.

Doty elaborated that the Pinewood Elementary library is helping children meet their reading requirements for a number of summer reading programs, which are offering prizes of free books from Barnes & Noble, Borders and Half-Price Books, as well as free pizza from Alfy’s and Papa Murphy’s.

“We actually have greater availability in out selection during the summer, since there’s not a school full of students checking out the same books,” Doty said. “We’re giving kids more reading opportunities and a safe place to hang out with their families.”

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