In April, the Bank Street School for Children welcomed award-winning author Carlos Hernandez as this year’s Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence. Hernandez, author of the science fiction novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe and other children’s books, was selected for the program by the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature.
Throughout the two-week residency, Hernandez worked closely with students in the 9/10s on creative fiction writing and the concept of world building to guide students in framing their own stories. The project culminated in a special virtual event in which students shared an excerpt from their imaginative stories with an engaged audience of classmates, families, and Bank Street faculty and staff.
“The creativity was absolutely explosive,” said Hernandez about working with Bank Street students. “Your 9/10s were amazing, the creativity never stopped, and people were so eager to share and so eager to keep building on everything…we were talking about how you take character and make that part of the setting and how you take setting and make that part of the plot—all of that interconnectivity.”
To begin the program, Hernandez introduced a prompt that asked students to fill in the blanks to “The weirdest thing happened when I ate that…. I….” From there, ideas around exciting adventures, secret portals, and mysterious objects with powers began to take shape across classrooms. Additionally, many students incorporated elements of everyday life within their original stories, such as the library, family dinner, and school.
Hernandez, who is also an English professor at City University of New York, is Bank Street’s seventh Writer-in-Residence. The program was established in 2015 in honor of Dorothy Carter, Bank Street’s first African American faculty member, writer of highly acclaimed children’s books, chair of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and Broadway actress.
“Every year we have had an exceptional author working with our students on creative writing,” said Cynthia Weill, Director, Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature. “This year has been unparalleled and we are so thankful to Carlos Hernandez for energizing our community with innovative writing techniques and guiding students in developing their writing craft.”
“As a school leader and as a parent of a 9/10s student, it has been inspiring to have Carlos Hernandez as our Writer-in-Residence,” said Doug Knecht, Dean of Children’s Programs and Head of the School for Children, as he reflected on dynamic conversations with his family about world building. “We deeply appreciate the Center for Children’s Literature’s partnership with our school.”
Since concluding the program, Hernandez has returned to the School for Children to continue the discussion about writing the Sal & Gabi series.
To learn more about the program and view an archive of past Writers-in-Residence, visit bankstreet.edu/writer-in-residence.