Saturday, January 31, 2009

School Visits

There's nothing quite as exhilarating for me as the end of a successful school visit. To know, after my weeks of preparation and practice, that it was all worth it. This knowledge comes from the faces of the children I've "reached," discovering that some of them already love to write, and recognizing the hunger in them to learn how they might develop this gift.

I was very fortunate this past week to speak to two classes of Grade 5 students. They were a terrific audience--receptive and eager. I'm convinced the reason for this was their teachers.

The teachers had made their students aware of the writer they were going to meet. One class had been visiting my website to learn about me; in the other, the teacher was reading my last book to the class. It is indeed true that the more the students know about the author beforehand, the more they will learn from the visit. Thank you, ladies!
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

January scene from my front window

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Writers & Readers

Looking out the window this morning at the scene shown above, I knew it would be a great day to curl up with a book. Or two or three.

Writers are people who read. I've never met anyone serious about writing, who didn't also love to read. I belong to two public library systems in my area and I borrow books from family and friends. I'm trying to curb my habit of reading several books at once, although I've found it's manageable if they are books in different genres.

Currently, I am reading an anthology of short mystery stories, a YA novel by an author I recently met, a book recommended by my 9 year old granddaughter--The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate diCamillo, and I'm reading The Subtle Knife, Book 2 of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy for the second time. I found it so fascinating the first time I read it that I now have my own set of books and can savour it slowly.

I read as many children's books as books for adults. Because I write for young readers, I like to be aware of what today's kids are reading.

Read on,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Teachers' Guidelines

It seems these days that everyone expects there will be teachers' guidelines available for books that are used in the classroom. It's a fairly new concept for me, but one I don't mind providing. I think someone who has been a teacher has a definite advantage here. I never have been.

Nonetheless, I enjoy preparing handouts to offer the teachers when I do school visits. I call them "Activity Sheets". They are one page sheets with suggestions for continuing the discussion, once the students return to their classrooms.

The handouts usually include a number of questions based on the story, some ideas for class discussion, some vocabulary, a creative writing exercise and the opportunity for further research for those who might enjoy it. I try to keep it interesting. If I were a kid reading the book for the first time, what more would I want to know?

Till next time,