Authostrator Visit, and Doodle Day: 18 swirl

PoodoodleI was invited to visit the first graders as an author-illustrator of picture books last week. It was the second rescheduling due to snow days. I was prepared, but somehow left my list of things I wanted to cover at home. I assembled that list after asking for tips in my 12×12 Picture Book Challenge group, and Deb Lund generously offered to talk to me about author visits over the phone. Deb stressed the importance of sharing something about yourself, and to let the kids feel like you are THEIR author.

My idea was to stress the importance of pictures in picture books – sounds silly, but I decided to read a few picture books that illustrate (ha, ha!) the parts of a story that the artist can tell, apart from what is being told in the text. So I am glad I had the books in my bag to start my talk, and hoped the rest would kick in.

swirldancer

But I got nervous. I don’t think it was the kids giving me secret waves, or the full 3 classes assembled before me, but my inner teacher took over and I started telling – that was my mistake. I don’t think the kids minded, but I should have nixed all the talk (esp. how an anecdote differs from a story plot – yeah, it got that bad!). I showed them some of my work (which I wish I could have done on a big screen so all the kids in the back could see too). And I got a lot of encouragement to create stories for my squirrel character.

ThistleEnvy

But what I SHOULD have done, was to give the whole talk standing up and to draw as much as I talked on the big white board. Because in the end, when the questions started coming in (mind you, raised hands and random comments sprinkled the whole event) I realized they wanted to see how I do what they could relate to best at that age – telling stories in pictures.

apostrophe catastrophe

apostrophe catastrophe

Reading those books was what gave me something to take away in the end. Although I read between 75 and 100 picture books a week, I don’t get to read aloud them to kids. During my visit I realized, you don’t read TO kids, but WITH them! I somehow never noticed that with my own two. We read one wordless book, Bear Despair by Gaetan Dorémus, then Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins to read what was not in the text. Then, to discuss what the posture and facial expressions tells us, we read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. That’s when it hit me – their enthusiasm drove how I read, how I turned every page. It was marvelous to experience the book like a chorus does a song!

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “Authostrator Visit, and Doodle Day: 18 swirl

  1. Love this: you don’t read TO kids, but WITH them!!! Sounds like a good first visit which will help your second visit be even more successful! The fact that you learned how to improve future visits is huge!

    Like

  2. great story! In its largest sense of the word-
    Love it, especially that you want to do more of this. YES!
    And also, it makes me happy to see and read about your journey as an author/illustrator. YES YES YES. You are awesome.

    Like

  3. I love your story and your doodles! That’s one fancy poodle! Are these the pictures you showed the kids? Yes, it would have been so awesome if you had had something to draw on!! You’ll get it all right the next time! I’m glad you enjoyed your storytime and are wanting more!

    Like

  4. So true that you don’t read to kids but with them – what an excellent distinction! I’m sure you were fabulous, and I bet the kids loved you 🙂 I sometimes think I learn as much from school visits as the kids do, so it’s a learning experience all ’round! I’ll look forward to the squirrel story 🙂

    Like

  5. I LOVE THIS. I wish I had been all squinched up on the floor with them, pretending to be little, and hearing you read me stories and draw me pictures. Love the poodle doodle. CURLY!!

    Like

  6. What an exciting opportunity. From your perspective you coulda, shoulda, but from the students’ point of view . . . “Mom, a Real illustrator came to our school today. She was SO COOL!”
    I wish you many more amazing opportunities (and thanks for the great advice.)

    Like

  7. What a fabulous learning experience for both the kids and you. There’s always something we can tweak and learn to do better. A big screen would be awesome. And yes, yes, to some squirrel stories!

    Like

  8. Just know that if they were asking questions during your presentation, THEY WERE INTERESTED and ENJOYED themselves. In my lit program, sometimes I can hardly get through a book for all the questions. They’re so engaged in the material. I find that I sometimes do too much talking and the kids will say, “Read the story, Miss Pam!! Back to you. 🙂 Your work is amazing, so I know those young learners were excited about your presentation. I know there was a lot of conversation going on. Am I right? How wonderful is it to be so enthusiastic about something you’ve done that you already have thoughts of bigger, better? I know those kids had a great time. Love that you shared this with us, so insightful. The vulnerability in this post of yours is pretty empowering to your readers.

    Like

    • Thanks Pam – your comments are so encouraging! I was bummed when they had to go back to their classrooms. As much as I admire teachers for all they do, for all they have to struggle with, and how much they have to give, they are so lucky to be with these whippersnappers!

      Like

  9. That’s great Julie. Like others have said if they were asking questions they were interested. Next time will be even better! I do love the take away lesson “you read with kids not at them”. I will have to keep that in mind!

    Like

  10. How did I miss this? What a great and encouraging story. I’m supposed to be setting up my first author Skype visit, but have NO IDEA what I’m supposed to do on Skype — we may have to chat!

    Regardless of how you think it went, the kids clearly loved the time they spent with you. And so true about reading WITH them – I usually can’t get through a story with my little guys because of all the questions and discussions about every single illustration. 🙂 Here’s to many more, better and better! (Love that squirrel.)

    Like

    • Thank you, Renee. You can definitely contact me, but I am certain you will spellbind those kids! I need to get back outside and let those tree rats tell me the story they want to read about my squirrel!

      Like

  11. From your description here, your visit was a success. You’ll get more and more comfortable as time goes on, but those kiddos saw you, as a real person, following your dream, sharing with them, and if they sensed you were nervous, what an added bonus to make authors more real and to validate the students’ own dreams. Just like you don’t want to let your inner critic in when looking at your writing, you can’t let her in over a school visit. That visit was your first draft, and a darn good one at that! ; ) Congratulations…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s