Lauren Tarshis, author of the “I Survived” book series, inspired Increase Miller Elementary School third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students with her engaging personality and interesting tips during a special visit to the school on April 7.
“We invited a special guest here today,” said Principal Kerry Ford, who acknowledged the school’s PTA for funding the special event. “Lauren Tarshis is going to tell us all about the books she has published.”
Tarshis told students her 13 “I Survived” books, which narrate famous events such as the sinking of the Titanic, the Battle of Gettysburg and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, are classified as historical fiction.
“All of the facts are true and all the characters are made up,” she said. “I do tons and tons of research for my books.”
Tarshis described taking an ice bath and visiting the beach during the wintertime to research an accurate description of how people who jumped into the icy Atlantic Ocean waters as the Titanic sunk may have felt.
“It was horrible,” she said of the experiment. “It didn’t feel cold, it felt boiling hot and like I was being stabbed by thousands of needles” – a description that made it into her book.
Despite her success as an author now, Tarshis said she wasn’t able to finish reading a book until she was 14 and her first attempts at writing books didn’t turn out well. After landing a job with Scholastic after college, her love of books grew. It was an encounter with now world-famous “Harry Potter” series author J.K. Rowling that inspired her to keep trying to write.
“[Rowling said to me,] ‘Don’t you know? In order to write a good book, you have to write two terrible books first,’” Tarshis recalled.
She told students that she hasn’t forgotten that simple idea and reminded students that it is OK to not know right now what they are good at or what they want to do as adults.