Nick & Other Authors Celebrate Meriden's Voracious Readers

Authors of some familiar book series joined hundreds of students and proud parents at Lincoln Middle School on Thursday to celebrate the students’ success in reaching reading goals.
The goals: Read one million words or read for more than 3,000 minutes. More than 400 students in Meriden’s elementary and middle schools met the goals, accomplishments that were celebrated at the fourth annual “Celebration of Meriden Public School Readers.”

“This is a celebration of accomplishments outside the realm of the extracurriculars,” said David Salafia, coordinator for the family-school liaison department. “This is for those avid readers, to celebrate their accomplishments, too.”

Students got free copies of books from four authors, including TV celebrity Nick Cannon’s “Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems.” Cannon is well known as the host of “America’s Got Talent,” and has been involved in many projects over the years. He starred in the 2002 film “Drumline,” hosted “The Nick Cannon Show” in 2002-03, and has released a number of hip-hop albums. Cannon, who is filming a new movie with director Spike Lee, wasn’t able to attend the Thursday event, but has said he’ll be in Meriden on June 24 to sign copies of his book. He sent a video that was played at the event.

“Yo, what’s good, all my Meriden students!” he says in the video. “Nick Cannon here, and I cannot wait to come hang out with you on June 24. We’re going to ‘wild ’n out,’ because you guys have accomplished so much when it comes to reading, literacy; all that amazing stuff,” he says, making a reference to his TV show “Wild ’N Out.” “Congratulations, and see you soon,” he concludes.

In addition to Cannon’s book, students also received a copy of one of three other books, all of whose authors were at Lincoln to sign copies. The authors were Michael Northrop, who wrote the “TombQuest” series; Lauren Tarshis, who wrote the “I Survived” series; and Jeffrey Salane, who penned the “Lawless” series. Salafia explained that the schools have a partnership with R.J. Julia Booksellers, of Madison, which coordinates the author visits.

Karen Rosenthal, the bookstore’s children and young adults events coordinator, said that choosing authors of book series “is great because it might motivate students to keep reading” books in the series. Rosenthal congratulated students who reached the reading benchmarks and who attended Thursday, and she also had some encouragement for students who didn’t. “I want a kid to feel good about what they did accomplish. You might not have picked up a book in years, but you can always start,” she said. Tarshis said she was one of the latter students.In a speech to open the night, Tarshis admitted that she “didn’t read a full book until I was in high school.” “We’re so impressed and proud of you,” she told students. “I always wanted to be one of those kids who read with ease, but I just wasn’t.” She told students who might have struggled to reach the threshold, “Think of me.”

Kyla Evardone, 9, a Nathan Hale School student, said it was “phenomenal” to meet Tarshis and have a book signed. Kyla said she read more than 2.5 million words this year, and of all the books, those in Tarshis’ “I Survived” series were her favorite.