Alan Sitomer, a winner of the 2007 California Teacher of the Year Award and an author who has written nineteen books (including “Caged Warrior,” “Noble Warrior,” “Home
Alan Sitomer, a winner of the 2007 California Teacher of the Year Award and an author who has written nineteen books (including “Caged Warrior,” “Noble Warrior,” “Homeboyz,” and “Daddies Do It Different”) has one major thing to say about education: “Literacy is linchpin.”
Sitomer has found during his teaching that students tend to lose interest in regular reading beyond the fourth grade. When they stop reading regularly, they also begin to slide academically. He became an author to reach these students. “It opens up doors for them to literacy because a lot of books that are assigned in schools to them are by dead people.”
He gives some advice to prospective authors: “You need to tell a story that you yourself want to hear.” If you do this, you will end up writing more passionately about that subject than you would have written about one you are less interested in.
Sitomer has another unique insight on what people find interesting in a story. “Show love for the bad guys,” he said, because “a great bad guy brings out the best in your hero.” In other words, a lot of people focus on the hero of their book. However, how many people would have read the “Harry Potter” series without his back story involving Lord Voldemort? Even if you haven’t read the “Harry Potter” series, surely you know the plot of Star Wars. In fact, Darth Vader as a character was so successful that they made three prequels just to transform the hero into the villain.
In addition to contemporary stories, Sitomer uses pop culture to connect to his students. For example, he teaches poetry classes using rap lyrics. He has written a book called “Hip-Hop Poetry & The Classics” to reach students who would be less interested in older literature.
Sitomer now travels and gives presentations to teachers, such as at the Colorado Council International Reading Association where I interviewed him, so that they can reach out more successfully to their students like Sitomer reaches out to his students.