Minnesota author visits Albert Lea elementary schools as part of I Love to Read Month

Published 12:23 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022

By Alex Guerrero

Laura Purdie Salas has been busy this week. 

The Minnesota author has been traveling around the Albert Lea school district all week when classes were in session  and reading different themed books at the district’s request. 

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Every year the district invites a Minnesota author or illustrator to visit elementary schools, typically during the last week of February during I Love to Read Month.

“When we asked our last two visiting authors, Mike Wohnoutka and David LaRochelle, who we should invite to present in 2022, they both recommended Laura,” said Kristen Seeger, library media specialist for the district.

For kindergarten and first graders, Purdie Salas read “We Belong,” an affirmation book, and asked them to compose a rough-draft of a poem. In second and third grade, she chose “If You Want to Knit Some Mittens,” a story documenting the process for how wool mittens and scarves are made. For fourth and fifth graders, she shared pieces of several of her stories and talked with the kids about creativity and the similarities between being an author and the work they’re doing in class.

This was her first time in a classroom in two years, though she has done virtual presentations during the pandemic.

“It’s really exciting to be back,” she said. 

Purdie Salas originally started out writing for adults and worked in magazines until she taught eighth-grade English.

“I had so much fun talking with the kids about books and reading all the books they were reading,” she said.

She also enjoyed reading to her daughters at the time, and decided writing children’s stories was what she wanted to do.

Purdie Salas was at Sibley Elementary on Wednesday, Halverson on Thursday and Lakeview on Friday. She spent her lunch hours every day at Hawthorne, where she did one grade-level session each day.

“These kinds of events are a way for me to really hear what my audiences like, what they’re thinking … ” she said. “It’s fun to see how kids react. And [I] get to affirm them in their own writing and reading and creativity and try to encourage them.”  

Purdie Salas, who has been an author for 23 years, described her books as a blend between non-fiction and poetry, though she has dabbled in fiction.  

“It’s the kids,” she said. “They give me such energy.

“It’s hard work and it’s tiring … but I always leave thinking, ‘Wow, I am so lucky that I get to write for these kids.’ And sometimes I get funny ideas from what they say.” 

The visit was sponsored by the elementary school parent-teacher organizations.