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Nikki's work fits in perfectly with the IB Primary Years Program and its focus on inquiry.
May 27, 2017
Nikki Tate Takes Readers from Farm to Page
You can tell what colour egg a chicken will lay from its earlobes. There’s a breed of black pig whose ears flop over their eyes so they can’t see: These are some of the many fun facts about farm life that author Nikki Tate shared with Junior School students.

Nikki recently gave two presentations in the Junior School. She spoke to JK- Grade 3 students about farming and where our food comes from. “Everything is interesting to write about, even earthworms,” Nikki said. “I farmed earthworms to enrich the soil to grow organic vegetables.” She also shared her stories of raising turkeys, shearing sheep and herding ducks.

Junior School Librarian Fatma Faraj brings in a non-fiction writer every other year to give an inspirational presentation to the girls. “I want students to know there are different types of writers for different types of readers,” she says. “Author visits are a phenomenal opportunity for students to have a face-to-face experience with someone whose work they have read. These visits create lasting memories that will become part of their Branksome story.”

Nikki is the author of 30 books of fiction and non-fiction for young readers including, Down to Earth, How Kids Help Feed the World. She based the book on her 13 years as a farmer on Vancouver Island, where she never hesitated to put her daughter or her daughter’s friends to work. “Nikki’s work fits in perfectly with the IB Primary Years Program and its focus on inquiry,” adds Ms Faraj. “Her books are centered on seeking answers to her questions.”

Nikki’s latest book, Deep Roots, How Trees Sustain our Planet was nominated for a 2017 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award. The award is one of several given out by the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading event where students choose the winners. Each student who reads five books gets one vote. What a wonderful way to teach a love of reading and the importance of democratic participation all at once.

Nikki’s presentation to the Grade 4-6s was about the writing process. She shared how she creates her books by finding an inspiring organizing principle for her many ideas. When she was researching Deep Roots for example, she had so much information about how trees support life on earth that she decided to organize it into four distinct sections; to clean the air; for shelter, for fuel; and for food.

“Write something in your notebooks every single day,” she told the girls. “It’s amazing how a short piece of writing can quickly become book-like.”

Nikki suggested to the students to begin writing stories about their families. “Ask them about a time they were thrilled or excited, or how they got a scar. Then write it out very factually: who, what where why and how.” Then Nikki delighted her audience with a story about the time a snake bit her grandmother’s leg in a Brazilian jungle and left a huge scar on her calf. It became the inspiration for Nikki’s book, Grandparent’s Day.

Nikki is as engaging a storyteller in person as she is on the page. Congratulations, Nikki, on your Silver Birch nomination, and thank you for sharing your love of writing with us.

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