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Guest authors – Very young writers get a place on the library shelves

By Melissa Wagoner

There’s a special section in the Silver Falls Library that not many people know about. It’s called the Guest Author section and it’s full of serious writers who, despite their age, are given a chance at having their books displayed on the shelf for any and all to check out.

Partially inspired by the story of Dillon Helbig, the eight-year-old boy from Boise, Idaho who placed his hand-written book on the shelf of his local library in the hopes that others would read it, librarians at the Silver Falls Library – and others across the country – decided to follow suit.

“I decided to do this here because I had kids who would sit down and start writing,” Dena Chaffin, the Youth Services Librarian, said of the program, which allows children of all ages to submit their own
self-published books.

“My hope is that we’ll have more engagement with schools,” Chaffin said. Thus far, the Guest Author section includes only a handful of books. The program, she hopes,  “can help instigate reluctant writers and readers.”

It can also help fill the section with more and varied books that are inspiring to other children and fun to read as well. 

“Most are first through third graders,” Chaffin said, holding examples of those received. All are complete with illustrations, author credits and an official barcode. 

“We’re excited to have them in the library.” 

And the kids are excited too. Three newly minted authors – winners of this year’s Summer Reading Program writing contest – recently joined the ranks. 

“The writing contest for the Summer was ‘choose your own adventure’,” Chaffin said. “It’s super exciting.” 

It’s also precisely the kind of community engagement she is hoping for.

“Just come over to our side and let us know you want to do it,” she said. Any interested child can begin writing his or her own book. “Or talk to a grownup about what you need to do to get started.”

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