Written by Lauren Knauer
In November, Ball State hosted Newbery Honor-winning author Alicia D. Williams for three days. Her visit attracted large audiences, due to her popularity and our excitement to meet her. We couldn’t wait and prepared for an amazing visit. Our staff worked hard to make her stay as engaging as possible, so she could inspire and leave her impact on us. Her visit was a huge success, and we are very thankful for all who made it happen.
Getting to Know Alicia D. Williams
Writer-in-Residence events are some of the students’ favorite campus happenings. When they occur, much effort is put forth to get the most out of the event, so everyone has a good time, and leaves inspired.
We loved Alicia D. Williams long before she visited Ball State. She is an award-winning author of children’s novels. The idea to have her visit came near the beginning of the semester, and the plans for her visit started in September. Jill Christman, Katie Matthew, and Melissa Hull worked hard these past few months, and they created a vision for how these events would be set up. Hosting a popular author at a university to speak is exciting, and the staff wanted to make sure they did it right.
Our staff wanted to plan ahead and be as prepared and organized as possible. Our staff wanted Alicia D. Williams to be here in spirit before her actual visit in November. Her books were distributed at Ball State and in Muncie’s public schools. They were a sneak peek of what was to come! Then, throughout October, Professor Christman and her MA student Katie Matthew, visited middle schools in Muncie to discuss the books they read and give creative writing lessons. They wanted to inspire the students and engage them before Alicia came, so they would know who she is, her stories, and get the most out of her upcoming visit. Even more, Jill Christman and other staff worked hard to coordinate book clubs, and coordinated with different departments to share Alicia D. William’s writing and get them excited to read.
Engaging with Kids in Muncie
Encouraging children to read these days is challenging, but we must make an effort to change that, and from what we’ve seen with this experience, the efforts of our staff for Muncie children definitely worked! If someone isn’t a reader, sometimes they need to find that perfect book or author to get them hooked, the catalyst for them to start to love reading. Alicia D. William’s books are relatable, yet authentic and even whimsical. She writes very well for her audience, and she gets kids to love to read. This was indeed our goal: to get the children of Muncie to love to read, love the world of storytelling, and even write stories, since we as a department know what a huge impact books and writing can make.
On her last night here, Alicia joined The New York Times bestselling author Ashely C. Ford, who is a Ball State alum and recently moved back to the area to teach and share her craft. Ashley is known for her popular memoir, Somebody’s Daughter. The two had a discussion and Q&A and interacted with the visitors. Having the perspective of two different authors and their insights were valuable, and we loved the experience! We are very thankful to both Alicia and Ashely for visiting and inspiring us with their words and presence.
Overall, we are immensely grateful for our staff and their hard work to make our Writer-in-Resident events happen. It takes a lot of planning, teamwork, and creativity. In the end, it’s always worth it, and we always have a blast! Our Writer-in-Residence is sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the English Department and is made possible by the Efroymson Family Fund, the College of Sciences and Humanities, and the Office of the President with generous, immense support from the Office of Community Engagement and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and African American Studies at Ball State University.