I did my first author visit this week! That involved reading WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? 18 times to kids in preschool on up to 5th grade. I talked about my "author's toolbox," summarized the "idea to finished book" process, passed out bookmarks and coloring pages, and played a team building game with groups of energetic 3rd through 5th graders.
Doing my first school visit taught me a few things, and reminded me of a few others. Whether you are an author like me, an illustrator, or have some other job that could lead to you sharing with a classroom full of elementary students, here are ten things the experience may teach you:
1. Kids are the best kinds of people.
2. Even "big kids" like fifth graders enjoy picture books.
3. Kids always laugh at the word "butt."
4. In the course of your visit, some child is likely to hiccup, burp, fart, or all of the above (expect laughter for that last one).
5. Kindergarteners seem to have small bladders.
6. Props are your friends! Because of the building aspect of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, I brought along a tool box and a hard hat. The kids especially loved the hard hat, possibly because I let them knock me on the head while I wore it.
7. Schools can be cold. Bring a sweater!
8. Kids love word searches! And coloring! And mazes! So, provide a packet with a variety of activities to go along with your book.
9. To an eight-year-old, two years is a very long time. During my time with a class of third graders, I explained that it took two years for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? to be published once it was accepted. Overheard as the kids were leaving: "Two years! I can't even imagine. I would be six!"
10. You don't have to work hard to be impressive. The fact that you wrote a book makes you a hero in the eyes of a child. They want to hear about it! And they may even ask for your autograph.
And a bonus:
11. If you have an unexpected coughing fit during your reading, just tell the kids you accidentally inhaled a gnat. They'll be grossed out and amused just enough to buy you some time.