Talking to 4th graders

I went in to Preteen’s school to talk to the 4th graders today. One of the 4th grade teachers had e-mailed me because she’d heard I’d been reading my work-in-progress to Preteen’s class and having them fill out these questionnaires etc., and she was wondering if I’d come in and talk to her class about what it’s like to be an author and where I get my ideas. And then when the other 4th grade teachers heard I was doing this, they wanted me to come to their rooms, too. So I suggested I come and just talk to the whole fourth grade at once.

We kept things very informal. I didn’t even dress up like I normally do for school visits (since I didn’t really consider this a school visit). I just wore my denim shorts and a T-shirt (it’s 88 degrees out today and VERY humid…and I knew I was going to a hot, 2nd floor classroom where there’s no air conditioning). But in a lot of ways it WAS like a regular school visit. I know virtually all of the sixth graders at that school, and I know a lot of the fifth graders. But I only know a handful of the fourth graders. And I was really impressed by how well prepared these kids were for my visit. They actually had several of my books in the classroom library, so many had read at least one of my books. Even though the kids don’t know me, many of them know who Preteen is (and they know that he’s got an illustration in my latest book…he signed the school library’s copy of the book right below my signature), so that adds an extra layer of familiarity, too. I brought a few of my books and told them where I got the idea for each one, and then I let them ask questions. Each kid had written a bunch of questions down on a sheet of paper. It’s always fun to go into a classroom where the kids are interested and enthusiastic, whether you’re getting paid to do it or not.

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