ANCS Parent & Children’s Author: Laurel’s Story

I’m from Baltimore, and will always be a little homesick for my city, but there is so much in South Atlanta that reminds me of home. We initially lived in East Lake Terrace, but moved to Ormewood Park, which has been a great neighborhood for our family and ANCS has been a huge part of that. My son Mose graduated last year and moved on to Maynard Jackson, and Lewis is finishing 8th grade right now. Both boys have been at ANCS since kindergarten, so the transition has been significant.

There is so much to love about ANCS! The faculty and staff understand that kids need both independence and support! The school families are close and parents are invited to be involved in the day-to-day of their children’s education. I will personally miss volunteering in the library on a regular basis. This pandemic year, as we’ve all struggled through so many changes, I’ve been especially amazed at how well ANCS has adjusted and communicated with us.

I started writing when I was about eight years old, and that was also the year my parents divorced. I was pretty lonely and confused, and I think writing was an emotional outlet for me, and also a companion. When I didn’t have anyone to talk to, the pages were always there and that has never changed. I’ve always been a big reader, so of course the books I loved were a major influence. Today, I have published somewhere around 25 books and I found that when I write, I communicate best with kids.

I travel around the country (and sometimes internationally) to speak with kids, conduct workshops, give readings etc. That has been a really interesting way to witness education. Kids are kids, wherever you go, and I’ll say that visiting so many different kinds of schools has only reinforced my sense that ANCS is very special and has played a big role in helping me raise my kids! I’ve been so grateful for this strong, thoughtful community.

My advice to parents trying to encourage a love of reading is to provide access to all kinds of books, and try not to limit or judge. All books are good books, for the kid who loves them! Graphic novels count. Audio books count. Picture books count. We create lifelong readers by not shaming or criticizing the books a kid enjoys most. I think if we just allow kids to establish a healthy, joyful relationship with reading, they will find their way to the “important” content as time goes by.

We still have a long way to go, in teaching history in a truly intersectional way. But I’m glad to see kids learning about women’s history. And books can help with this too! There are some wonderful books just coming out, that seek to correct much of what my own generation was taught about the role women have played. I highly recommend everyone update their reading lists with books like Kate Messner’s History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote, which updates some of the myths we have historically taught kids. But perhaps one important thing is simply to read books about women’s history that are BY women. Just as it’s important to learn about Black history from Black writers, or Native American history from Native American writers, it’s important to let women tell us the story of women. Their lens matters.

  • Laurel Snyder