Just a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit the preschool Children's House of Los Altos and engage with three different classes. It was my first official author's visit, and my first time reading my books out loud in large classrooms and then leading the kids in activities. I thought that if I wrote the words in my blog rather than saying them out loud, I'd be able to properly record the joy I experienced that day, but it's proving challenging because even the best, most words can’t always capture euphoria.
Let's just say that if I could spend my every day writing and reading books out to young kids and answering their many highly intelligent, curious questions that show their sense of wonder and appreciation for the world around them, I would feel like I'd won the Powerball.
Questions ranged from "Where do you like to write?" to "What machines are used to make the books?" to "How do you think up rhyming words?" There were questions that I'd never thought about myself. Why is it that when we leave childhood behind we stop framing questions like “How does a book get its spine?” and “What makes some books shiny and others not so shiny?”
When you’re a visiting author, especially to a preschool, it’s important to keep in mind that younger children have short attention spans and plan accordingly. Short attention spans are completely normal and right, and it’s up to the author to break up the readings with activities and interactive dialogue so that the audience is engaged and works out their fidgets. My audience was happy to play games, chat about the many questions on their minds, and even dance! Huge thanks to the teachers for helping to keep the class focused and engaged, and for reading some of the books ahead of time so that the kids were familiar with them and excited to meet me.
At the end of the day I was able to hand out autographed books that many of the parents had pre-ordered for their little ones. It was the best feeling to see those faces light up when they opened their books and saw that a “real author” had written a special note inside!
If I could experience every day the feeling of floating on air that stayed with me for days after my author visit, I would. But for now I can store away the memory of that day, as well as the comment of a four year old boy who prefaced one of his questions by gravely announcing “First I want to say that your books are VERY cool”. As reviews go, I’m pretty sure most children's book authors would agree that it doesn’t get much better than that!
Happy visiting, fellow writers!