Kelly Cunnane visits Swan’s Island Elementary and Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary Schools in May

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Kelly Cunnane’s energy was impossible to ignore as she bounded from student to student and exuded the excitement of Kenya. Through sounds and words and artifacts, she effortlessly and enthusiastically shared another beloved culture with enraptured students and teachers.

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Kelly brought bags full of Kenyan clothing and implements for kids to use so that they could physically and mentally become a part of a Kenyan village experience.

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She shared her journey of writing through her journals and early publications and was able to also show some of the process of writing, editing and publishing by comparing early galleys and final copy of For You Are A Kenyan Child.

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Kids draped the various cloths to wear as local women, men and warriors; greeted one another with a rousing Swahili “jambo” and shake of a hand; and imagined what it’s like to cook chapati by lamplight, herd and protect cattle, and carry their own stool for sitting wherever they go to visit.

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Students most enjoyed learning about unusual items from Kenya and were surprised by their uses, and wanted to know more about the spears’ use, Bushbabies, and monkeys.

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The free writing exercises, in which Kelly had them involved, were another favorite student activity because it allowed them to “ write straight from the mind.”

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A treasured lesson from the visit, which we hope kids will keep with them and use always, are the impassioned words Kelly shared:

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Find what you LOVE, LEARN, SHARE what you LOVE (through art, word, music etc), and stay CURIOUS – Always ask to keep learning! At IRW we LOVE stories, and enjoy SHARING them with CURIOUS minds through our many wonderful authors and illustrators. Thanks Kelly!

Want to see more? Check out this highlight reel from Kelly’s visit to Swan’s Island Elementary School.

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