- Events and Programs
Yesterday, award-winning author, journalist, NPR Weekend Edition host and Bernard Zell alumnus, Scott Simon, took time to visit with 5th, 6th and 7th-grade students. The event was moderated by our Library Director, Rena Citrin, who offered her perspective not only as an expert on children's literature but also as Scott's former high school classmate.
Mr. Simon, who has won an Emmy, a Peabody, and every other major award in broadcasting for his personal essays, war reporting, and commentary, is already the author of eight books for adults, a mix of memoirs and novels. While trying to decide what his next writing endeavor would be, he turned to an idea he had long wanted to write about: intellectually disabled adults. He explained to students that at age 19, he volunteered at a group home on the north side of Chicago for mentally disabled adults and it changed his life. His new book for Middle School aged students, Sunnyside Plaza, is a fictionalized story based on his time spent at the group home. He told students that he hopes that by shining a light on a population that is underrepresented in fiction, young readers will gain an understanding of the mentally disabled and the special gifts they have to offer.
Students listened as he talked about his time as a student at Bernard Zell. He spoke fondly of his teachers and the books he was assigned to read. He spoke about how Bernard Zell shaped his sense of self, how it helped him feel secure in his skills as a writer and encouraged him to be comfortable in his own skin. He told students, “I hope you can appreciate the absolute warmth with which you are enveloped here. You can’t get that anywhere else.”
In case you missed it, check out Mr. Simon's Alumni profile and keep an eye out for a full video of his talk with Middle Schoolers.