The sweet stuff in the middle....
Sometimes, there's a simple delight to find the surprises in the middle of things. Simple things like the middle of an Oreo or the center of the Tootsie Pop come to mind. But what I'm talking about here was Monday this week: a visit from Shannon Hale.
Last week, we missed Tuesday-Friday of school due to wintry weather. We came back to school Monday after a winter's nap. Monday turned out to be the middle- we've been out of school since Tuesday again~ and while it's only 3:40 on Thursday, I suspect we won't be back tomorrow. There are still many in our county without power~ and many roads that are not drivable. I hope I'm wrong.
Often, Mondays are not sweet things. But this week was special. We had our first visiting author Monday afternoon! Not knowing what to expect, and being totally thrown by being out of school for the 4 days prior- let's just say I was a bit anxious Monday morning.
All my anxiety disappeared as I stood watching Shannon Hale interact with my 250 grades 3-5 students. She was genuine, fun, and engaging. Did I mention interactive? Ms. Hale called on students to share titles of books that made them laugh, cry, or feel lost in a different world. With more hands raised than she could get to- she'd stop and say, "I'll count to 3. When I get to 3, call out your title~ then be perfectly silent." I smiled as I noticed teachers were participating too! She talked about about book choices~ finding what was right for them. Best place to find a book: ask someone. Ask a friend, a teacher- your librarian! Try all sorts of books. There are no such things as girl books and boy books. Books are books!
During the remainder of her presentation, she shared her writing process. With the assistance of a powerpoint containing pictures of herself at various stages of life, she shared what she was writing at those stages. Included in the presentation: an across the stage-long set of rejection letters that had been laminated. A discussion of perseverance and determination. The advice, "Want to be a better writer? Read a lot."
Following a Q and A from the kids, and a book-signing in the Media Center~ our Monday came to a quick close. You guessed it: all of the Shannon Hale books that had been on display in the Media Center were quickly checked out.
For me, Shannon Hale was the sweet stuff in the middle of a snow-packed 2 weeks. Her easy demeanor and relatability made a Monday afternoon beyond enjoyable. Many teachers shared with me how much they had enjoyed her visit. And a few days after~ I've already heard from a parent of boys that The Princess Academy is being read at their house. A win! Students were listening.
Remember: there are no boy books or girl books. They are all books. And hers: amazing.