Award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books Will Hillenbrand shared more than his books and drawings with students at Springer School and Center. Visiting the school for students with learning disabilities on October 13, Hillenbrand spoke about his struggles with dyslexia as a child, and the technology tools he uses to manage a successful career.
Hillenbrand shared with students his process for creating the images in a book such as “Bear in Love,” winner of a 2012 Parent’s Choice Award for Picture Books. His process contains many of the elements Springer teaches its students, such as using speech-to-text software and audiobooks, and creating and using visuals to understand and to help his readers understand. He said, “Images come first, then the words,” and demonstrated that his illustrations add much detail that is not found in the words of a book.
“I thought it was cool to see how he actually did his drawings,” said eighth-grader Mary Catherine Conaway, “and how he told us about himself.” Hillenbrand showed time-lapse demonstrations of the way he draws and then adds color to his illustrations, which he creates on an iPad.
"From the moment I walked in the door to Springer School and Center, I felt like I had a very strong connection with the students,” said Hillenbrand. “We have a lot of things in common: we love to draw, we love to read, we love to create. We also have one more thing in common: we all have a learning disability. We know that within this disability hides our true ‘ability.’ The ability to move forward on uncharted paths. The ability to see problems anew. The ability to bring creativity and fresh vision to the familiar. The ability to see deeply, not glancing. I loved my time with these students because we GET this idea about ourselves. It is our pride. It is who we are."
Hillenbrand has written and/or illustrated more than 60 books, and in addition to the Parent’s Choice Award has won a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, a Notable Book Award from the American Library Association and several Children’s Book Awards.