Author shares writing insights with Book Club members

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Author shares writing insights with Book Club members

Phil Bildner, children’s author, answers inquiries and questions from Wisdom Denby-Haskins, junior, and Maria Montseny Lamas, senior,  and members of the Book Club, concerning his experiences and knowledge as a full-time writer and retired middle school teacher.  “There are plenty of resources to help young writers, but nothing really beats getting advice from an expert. Also, it feels nice to know an expert care enough to take time out of his day to pass down his knowledge and experience to the younger generation,” Lamas said.

Phil Bildner, children’s author, answers inquiries and questions from Wisdom Denby-Haskins, junior, and Maria Montseny Lamas, senior, and members of the Book Club, concerning his experiences and knowledge as a full-time writer and retired middle school teacher. “There are plenty of resources to help young writers, but nothing really beats getting advice from an expert. Also, it feels nice to know an expert care enough to take time out of his day to pass down his knowledge and experience to the younger generation,” Lamas said.

Ivy Hansen

Phil Bildner, children’s author, answers inquiries and questions from Wisdom Denby-Haskins, junior, and Maria Montseny Lamas, senior, and members of the Book Club, concerning his experiences and knowledge as a full-time writer and retired middle school teacher. “There are plenty of resources to help young writers, but nothing really beats getting advice from an expert. Also, it feels nice to know an expert care enough to take time out of his day to pass down his knowledge and experience to the younger generation,” Lamas said.

Ivy Hansen

Ivy Hansen

Phil Bildner, children’s author, answers inquiries and questions from Wisdom Denby-Haskins, junior, and Maria Montseny Lamas, senior, and members of the Book Club, concerning his experiences and knowledge as a full-time writer and retired middle school teacher. “There are plenty of resources to help young writers, but nothing really beats getting advice from an expert. Also, it feels nice to know an expert care enough to take time out of his day to pass down his knowledge and experience to the younger generation,” Lamas said.

Ivy Hansen, Staff Reporter

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Holiday cheer filled the air as students chattered excitedly and gestured wildly to exotic locations on their phones. Many made frequent trips to the snack table, littered with sweet and salty treats galore before retreating to their seats.

Eventually, the bubbling conversation began to settle as eyes drew to a lanky man with tousled graying hair striding to the front of the room. The room fell completely silent, students leaning forward expectantly while recognition lit up their faces.

Children’s book author, Phil Bildner, visited Book Club members in early November to share his experiences and pass down the knowledge he has acquired in his lifetime. Bildner started off with an oldie-but-a-goodie slice of knowledge.

Ivy Hansen
Phil Bildner, children’s author, imparted one last piece of wisdom that originates from Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, for the Book Club members before closing out. “It’s so important when reading books, we need to see ourselves in books. For us, books need to be mirrors, they need to be reflections of who we are. We need to be able to relate to the characters, the events, the setting, the scenes, all those things in books,” Bildner said.

“The key to a good writer is you have read, you have read a lot. Read whatever you want. Reading is not a choice, what you read is your choice. Feed your head with the words, the things that you want,” Bildner said. “I also would recommend challenging yourself. Try a new genre, try a new author, experiment with something because you never know when you’ll discover a whole new genre or author you didn’t even know existed,” he added.

He continued, talking of his origins as a middle school teacher in New York City Public Schools, first in the Bronx for five years and then Manhattan for six years. However, the difficulty of teaching only increases when short on necessary classroom supplies. So, Bildner displayed his ingenuity by instead teaching the children using song lyrics and asking for supplies from friends.

“When I first started teaching in the 1990’s, I didn’t have books for the classroom, we didn’t have a copy machine, we didn’t have any materials. So, I would hit up my friends for materials for the classes and I taught my students to read using the lyrics of my favorite songs. We’d all read them as vocabulary words, and they were the launching points of our writing lessons. That’s how we learned about history or current events, through the use of these words,” Bildner said.

Ivy Hansen
Children’s book author, Phil Bildner, visited Book Club members to share his experiences and pass down the knowledge he has acquired in his lifetime. As a retired middle school teacher and founder of The Author Village, he had much to share in terms of advice for aspiring creators of all mediums. “Your words are a powerful thing. You never know how what you say, what you create, what you text, what you email, where it’s going to end up. So, you always got to be mindful and you never know the one moment where something you created could impact people,” Bildner said.

In this instance, he recognized the opportunity to address an issue with a solution outside-of-the-box, a trait he promotes in all creators alike from pencil to paintbrush to camera.

“As writers and as artists, we must see the things that others don’t. Sometimes, some of the coolest things in life are staring you right in front of your face and you don’t even realize it,” Bildner said.

He also encouraged his students in their interests, not merely grading their work, but rather providing feedback and comments on their work as well.

“When I was teaching sixth grade and eighth grade we would do writing assignments [because] you had to get kids’ grades; but also, we would write in journals. And when kids write in journals, I would never grade the journals, I would just offer feedback. You want to encourage a kid—the kid likes art, or the kid likes to sing, dance, draw, paint, you want to encourage it,” Bildner said.

Both as a former teacher and a full-time writer himself, Bildner realizes the impact he can make on others.

“Your words are a powerful thing. You never know how what you say, what you create, what you text, what you email, where it’s going to end up. So, you always got to be mindful and you never know the one moment where something you created could impact people,” Bildner said.

He went on to discuss his founding of The Author Village, a booking agency devoted to creating meaningful and educational events for authors to encourage and inspire children.

“I started a new business called The Author Village. Essentially, I work with other authors and I help them get into schools to talk to kids, to go to conferences and festivals and visit schools to hopefully encourage and inspire kids also,” Bildner said.

This aspiration to influence and motivate the younger generation holds especially with Bildner.

“Sometimes when I get up in front of a room full of kids, I’m of the mind that it’s going to be the first time—especially with little kids—the only time they ever get to meet an author. So, I feel so happy, like ‘Dude, you have to bring it,’ because you never know where that one moment is going to ignite for a kid,” Bildner said.

This more than matches the expectations of Elizabeth Nebeker, JVHS librarian, who invited him because she believes students need such a “motivational and necessary” experience.

“I was hoping that students would get some ideas of what is like to be an author and to be able to take personal experiences and make them interesting. He is great about talking about young adult books and he is very motivating and encouraging to be true to yourself,” Nebeker said.

Ivy Hansen
Children’s book author, Phil Bildner, promotes the ability to address an issue with a solution outside-of-the-box in all creators, from pencil to paintbrush to camera. “As writers and as artists, we [must] see the things that others don’t. Sometimes, some of the coolest things in life are staring you right in front of your face and you don’t even realize it,” Bildner said.

Clearly, his venture appears to have produced positive results, based off a delighted remark from Book Club member Maria Montseny Lamas, senior.

“There are plenty of resources to help young writers, but nothing really beats getting advice from an expert. Also, it feels nice to know an expert cares enough to take time out of his day to pass down his knowledge and experience to the younger generation,” Lamas said.

Fellow Book Club member Wisdom Denby-Haskins, junior, concurs with Lamas’ view.

“In my opinion, it is an amazing idea for an expert to share his experiences with the younger generation, because he just might speak to the right mind and inspire them,” Denby-Haskins said.

Bildner imparted one last piece of wisdom that originates from Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, for the students before closing out.

“It’s so important when reading books, we need to see ourselves in books. For us, books need to be mirrors, they need to be reflections of who we are. We need to be able to relate to the characters, the events, the setting, the scenes, all those things in books,” Bildner said. “In addition, books need to be windows, windows to different worlds and to opportunities, so you can see other things. Finally,books are sliding doors, where you get to step into other worlds and experience other things safely and vicariously, things you would never ordinarily get to experience,” he concluded.