Author to kids: Get writing

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WILDWOOD- According to children’s author Kate Klise, kids should start their writing careers long before they don mortarboards for college graduations.

That’s what she told Glenwood Elementary’s first through fifth graders on Jan. 30.

Klise, who has won numerous awards for her children’s books, such as “Regarding the Fountain” and “43 Old Cemetery Road” series, said she wrote her first book at 10 years old with her sister, Sarah Klise. The book was about a mouse that traveled the country stealing cheese. Klise wrote the story while Sarah illustrated. They gave it as a Christmas gift to their older sister. However, the day after Christmas, Klise found her book in the trash. 

In that moment, Klise said she had a choice: she could be upset about the book and never write again, or she could try harder.

She chose the latter and told Glenwood students to do the same.
“You can get your feelings hurt, or you can get busy,” she said.

Klise’s presentation was organized by the Cape May County Library, and was part of a series of presentations she was giving at area libraries and schools.

“This age has a special place in my heart,” she said of the fourth through fifth graders. She explained that she began writing at their age, and that younger students are just grasping the concepts of reading and writing, while these older students are becoming passionate about it.

Glenwood students, particularly those in fourth and fifth grade, treated Klise like a celebrity. One student joked that he was “dying to meet her” a pun off one of her books in her 43 Old Cemetery Road series, “Dying to Meet You.” Others made her cards, gave her copies of their books to sign, and asked to take pictures with her.

She encouraged students to go home and write a book, be it as a gift for their parents on Valentine’s Day, or just for fun. Klise told students she had a secret to writing books, and if they followed her secret, writing a book was easy.

Klise said to write a book, you needed one character, one problem, and one journey.

“A bad problem can be a good story,” she said. She illustrated “how easy” writing a book could be by having three students give an example of a character, a problem, and a journey. One group of volunteers dreamt up a mouse named Stephanie who couldn’t write, so she went to the beach to look for inspiration.

“You’re at the perfect age to start writing books,” she told students, and when asked if they would try to do so, many students cheered and raised their hands.

“Writing is a messy business and it’s frustrating,” she told students, but she had advice for writer’s block, too.

“Just be quiet and write,” she said.

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at

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