Village School

Author of 'I Dissent' visits Village

By Bev, Library Team Lead and Village Parent

By now you probably know that the library team is just plain crazy for books, authors, and reading! You may not know, however, that one of us (Lisa) is an aspiring children’s book author and participates in many writers’ groups and organizations in pursuit of her dream of one day being published.

It’s because of this connection to the literary world that Lisa was able to grant Village 3rd graders a very unique opportunity. In the fall, she participated in an online charity auction to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Lisa bid on and won a classroom Skype visit with Debbie Levy, author of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark as well as many other children’s books.

As the date for the visit approached, the kids, their teachers, and the librarians were all excited! Ms. Roberta and Ms. Aisling read I Dissent aloud to their classes and engaged the students in thinking up questions they’d like to ask Debbie about the book and being a published author.

Then, on the Friday before Thanksgiving break, the entire third grade packed into Teacher Aisling's classroom to digitally welcome Debbie to our school. The students saw her home office and met her 15+ year old cat Zoe. They heard all about her childhood love of books and writing, including seeing her first “published” works: Something Happened to Tuggy, and Fish, both of which she wrote in school at age 7. They learned that before becoming a published author, she earned a law degree as well as a master’s degree in politics, and worked as a newspaper editor.

Then it was on to questions the students had prepared:

Where did she go to college?
Debbie attended both the University of Virginia and University of Michigan.

How many drafts of I Dissent did she write?
Debbie estimated she had written about 20 drafts for I Dissent and finished the manuscript for the book in 5-6 months. She said this was a more accelerated timeline than most of her other books, and she showed the students a closet where she stores the many drafts from all her books (the students seemed very impressed with this!).

Is she friends with Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
No, she is not friends with RBG but she has met her and has a picture of the two of them together.

How did she find out so much about her?
To write the book, Debbie sent a letter to RBG asking for permission, and she got a reply saying yes! From there she researched everything she could about Ruth’s life and career. She went to the Library of Congress and read through all the information they had on her, which is contained in 180 boxes of materials!

What’s her favorite book she’s ever written?
The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells, which is a book she wrote for and about her mother, who left Germany as a child with her family in 1938 during World War II.

Is she writing another book now?
Yes, she is currently working on another nonfiction book about a brave young woman who stood up to segregation in the south during the 1950s.

Debbie was kind, generous with her time, engaging with the kids, lovely and gracious. In addition to donating the classroom visit to the third grade, Lisa received four of Debbie’s other books and donated them to the Village library collection: Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil WarWe Shall Overcome: The Story of a SongDozer’s Run: A True Story of a Dog and His Race; and The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells. Debbie autographed all the books, and provided an autographed bookplate for library’s copy of I Dissent.

A huge thank you to Lisa and her family for sharing this amazing opportunity and experience with Village!