Author Shelley Gill visited children in the Milford School District last week, introducing them to the art of imaginative writing and the excitement of her adventurous travels across the globe. Gill, an author of over twenty children’s books has traveled the world speaking with children about the importance of experiencing the great outdoors, great writing skills and a concern for mother Earth. Most of her books tell the story of her days in Alaska and her involvement with its animals and people.
Originally born and raised in Florida, Shelley began a desire for reading, writing and adventure when she first read the book White Fang, written by author Jack London. When her family gifted her a Volkswagen bus as a high school graduation present, Gill took that as a sign that she was ready to visit Alaska, which she did driving the 4,700 plus miles herself.
“My life changed the day I picked up the book White Fang,” said Gill to students at Lulu Ross Elementary School. “That first sentence, ‘Dark spruce frowned on either side of the frozen waterway. The trees seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous in the fading light’, changed my life. I knew I wanted to get there.”
One of the first women to compete in the Iditarod, an annual long-distance sled dog race in Alaska, Gill joined the ranks of names like Susan Butcher and Verona Thomspson in 1978. From 1979 to 1982, Shelley was a reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper as she worked her way from cub reporter to publisher of the publication. With the desire to share her love of adventure always in the front of her mind, Gill began writing children’s books in 1986. For the last sixteen years she is “back to her roots” following and documenting whales in the Western Hemisphere.
Gill has visited students across the globe including, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Costa Rica, Argentina and Antarctica. While in Milford she visited Lulu Ross, Mispillion and Banneker Elementary Schools and the Milford Central Academy. During her visits she stresses to the students that writing is a very important communication tool and that descriptive writing can take them anywhere in the world.
“Everything is so fast now and students are so used to being entertained. We forget that when they discover things on their own it is all amazing to them,” commented Gill. “When they realize they can live a life full of adventure, they get excited.” Working with the students directly, Gill described the essence of descriptive writing and how they could become great writers themselves. “Without the details and the tautness in the story, you do not have much of a story,” stated Gill. “Use an example, use your senses and paint a picture with your words.”
Through her books Shelley hopes that children discover the excitement and inspiration in the world around them. She believes that through this knowledge, kids will understand the necessity to preserve such natural beauty.
“It all starts with books, processing the critical concepts,” commented Gill. “Children are exposed to everything as observers but I want them to have a more hands on experience. Through that they will learn how we need to treat the world.”