School is Cool and Author Visits Rule
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
I had promised my school-aged kids a visit to their classrooms this school year. Of course, as my life typically goes, I squeaked these in just before the end of the year. I'm an eleventh-hour kind of person (but I do my best work in that blessed eleventh hour).
I'm not officially doing school visits yet. I'm not quite ready to dive in, and I have a three-year-old still at home. But I do plan on making school visits part of my career soon. In the meantime, I practice my presentations with my kids and their classmates.
My first stop was the school library for my third-grader's visit. This one evolved from my daughter's classroom to all-of-the-third-grade-in-the-library. Which was great because I needed the experience with a big group. It's definitely a different dynamic than a class of twenty!
Doing practice runs at my kids' school comes with zero pressure. I know the librarian and teachers. And they know me. I mean, they've seen me walk into school to check in my girls while I'm still wearing my pajamas. See? Zero pressure. Here's a picture from my launch event with their librarian and teachers. They are so cool.
The large crowd was kind of tricky. I asked a lot of questions to keep their hands in the air. I tried to keep my slides fun to prevent all the eyes from glazing over. Looking back, one thing I think I could have done better was give them a reason to stand and move. But it was super fun. I loved how several of them ran up to me afterward with something to say.
"I have a story about candy."
"My dad is writing a book."
"Do you know me?"
Kids are the best. They kind of made me feel like a celebrity for a couple hours. Haha. Some of the first graders at my next visit wanted selfies with me. Best fans ever.
Next stop, my daughter's first grade classroom. Being the youngest group on my agenda, I adapted the visit a little for them, skipping the slides that I knew wouldn't capture their interest and giving each of them a turn to roll the "story dice." Then, I left them with balloon cutouts and yarn so they could work on creating their own memory balloons. (Ask me how many balloons I've cut out since last August and if I can do it in my sleep.)
Many people mistake my daughters for twins--and they do look a lot alike! But they are so different. My 9-year-old was excited for my visit. She told her teacher that I got up early and put make-up on so I could talk to the third graders at 8:45. (Wearing make-up is an epic thing over here.) But, she did a good job of pretending she didn't know me. Haha! She also doesn't like to draw attention to herself, so I know that was part of it. She is the master of the grumpy face, which hides a well of enthusiasm, happiness, and creativity.
And then there is my Six who attaches herself to me as soon as I walked into her classroom. "Walk me down the hall." "Can I help out?" She wears her excitement like a cloak.
Out of all my visits, I only remembered to ask my daughter's first-grade teacher to snap some pictures of me. So here I am asking the kids, "Who do you think this is in the picture with me?" Some of the kids guessed my dad. Pretty hilarious.
The next day, I went to the middle school for my son's English class. Now, this was a little tricky. I mean, I'm a picture book author and would the middle schoolers they are too old for picture books? But they didn't seem phased by chatting about a picture book at all. They agreed that picture books were for everyone. They were involved and answered questions.
Afterward, there was a tender moment--a girl approached me and told me that her grandpa had Alzheimer's and had passed away recently. Then she started crying. When I became an author, these were moments I didn't anticipate. Her teacher and I comforted her, let her talk about her grandpa, and I gave her one of my books which I hope will offer her solace. She talked about scattering her grandfather's ashes in Mexico this summer. What a blessed moment and what a sweet girl with a big, big heart.
Now, I have a few balloons with school visit memories to add to my bouquet. And also a little more confidence to boost that I can talk to a bunch of kids about my book.