Author Lori Miller visits students of Osage Elementary School to read her new children’s book, “Stay Where I Can See You”
Along with sharing her love for diamondback turtles, Miller encourages students to engage with reading and writing
Local author Lori Miller visited Osage Elementary School last Friday to read her new children’s book, “Stay Where I Can See You.” The book follows a turtle, Toby, as he is separated from his mother, almost attacked by sea gulls, and is rescued by a little boy, Ben. Toby is eventually reunited with his family, but the book exemplifies an important message of safety to the children.
Miller captured the attention of the 300-plus students in the auditorium. As soon as she was finished, most of the students’ hands shot up, bursting to get her attention so they could ask her questions, many of which centered on the turtles.
“Do diamondbacks have a diamond?” Jamir Johnson asked.
“Are they endangered?” Adrianna Moore asked.
“How many turtles are in New Jersey right now?” Jayla Bullock asked.
Some students were concerned with Miller’s work and writing.
“How many books have you written?” Krishna Sharma asked.
As she finished the program, Miller asked each student about stories they would like to write. Their answers varied, from continuing on her story to ideas from their own lives.
Even though this book’s main message is to show children how to stay safe — or to stay where their parents or guardians can see them — for Miller, the most important takeaway from readings is advocacy of children’s literacy.
“This interest was sparked in my early days of teaching, as I encountered many students who were reluctant readers — those who for some reason just don’t enjoy reading and tend to avoid it — as well as those reading below grade level who become discouraged and tend to give up,” Miller said.
Miller takes advantage of her captive audience and usually ends her readings by asking the children to complete a writing assignment and send it to her. Seeing what the “future writers of America” send her — stories, poems, artwork — has become one of her favorite activities.
Miller has been a teacher and writer for more than 10 years. She uses her experience as a teacher to bring value to her readings.
“It’s the same thing. I have a goal; I have a lesson plan,” Miller said. “It makes me so happy that children find ‘Stay Where I Can See You’ interesting and enjoyable to hear and read themselves if they already know how to read. And I am especially happy that they want to hear and read it again and again.”
Along with promoting children’s literacy, Miller also donates books, sending them to teachers in other countries to share with their students.
“Having interesting and enjoyable stories available for children is critical in encouraging all children, and especially children who, for any reason, find reading to be challenging. All children, regardless of their background, deserve wonderful stories that interest and excite them and make them want to read and learn and want to read and learn more. It’s so important,” Miller said.
At the end of the day, for Miller, it’s all about giving back and helping today’s children grow.
“I love kids. I love teaching. I feel like I’m standing here teaching them the truth about writing and how it fits into my life,” she said.