No graduation ceremony is ever alike, but with the new coronavirus, few this year can be what they once were. As educators look for creative ways for their students to celebrate their achievements, publishers are giving a platform to children’s and YA authors to contribute their words of wisdom for students of all ages.
“I think we all need a little wisdom from someone right now,” said Rachel Feld, senior director of marketing for middle grade and YA at Scholastic. “I want 20 authors to inspire me to get me through the next day.”
Feld is part of a team that devised Scholastic Graduation, one of three graduation resources highlighted here, which educators, librarians and parents can turn to this year.
“With all of us working from home, you might think we’ve been solitary and secluded, but we’ve actually been able to brainstorm a lot more,” Feld said. “There’s nothing in the way, and everybody wants to come together and come up with great ideas. This might be one of the biggest things we’ve done.”
Launching the week of June 15, Scholastic Graduation will feature new graduation videos each day, leveled by age group, from pre-K through high school and college. Dozens of Scholastic authors are contributing short videos to the project, and each day new videos will be shared on Scholastic’s social media platforms. Authors Sayantani DasGupta, Lauren Tarshis, and Tui T. Sutherland will deliver three longer commencement addresses on Scholastic Home Base during the week of events. Attendees will be able to wear virtual graduation caps and attend a virtual dance party following the speeches.
Featuring 17 commencement speeches and a combined graduation video, HarperCollins Congratulations Class of 2020 celebrates what author Duff Goldman calls “the courageous class of 2020.” A dedicated website allows organizers to select from the speeches that are best for each audience, ranging from addresses for younger readers all the way up through college.
“I want you to know that us authors are not only rooting for you, we’re writing for you, and we are fundamentally thinking about the world we’re going to have to recreate together,” National Book Award and Printz Award-winning author Elizabeth Acevedo said.
Along with Acevedo, the site includes speeches by Naomi Shihab Nye, Nikki Giovanni, Neil Gaiman, and James Dean.
“We look to you as creative, resilient, original thinkers, to use your voice,” said I Am These Truths author Sunny Hostin, “because the world needs it perhaps now more than ever before in our history.”
While many people are focused on the final educational milestones of high school and college, Penguin Young Readers assembled a chorus of author and illustrators to celebrate children’s first milestone. Congratulations Pre-School Graduates is a short video with celebratory and encouraging messages from Mac Barnett, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Chelsea Clinton, Ibram X. Kendi, Rafael López, Dan Santat, and others.
With ukulele music by López and some commencement singing from Brantley-Newton, the video welcomes children to their educational journey. “I can’t wait to see everything you’re going to do in the new year,” I Am Every Good Thing illustrator Gordon C. James said.