Author School Visit: Laurel Park Elementary

Author Jacqueline Leigh-1

Becoming an author does not end with the publishing of your book, in fact, that’s when the fun really begins. That’s when the author becomes a public figure, a personality for the book and a face for children’s literature.

I was thrilled to spend 7 hours straight with the students and faculty at Laurel Park Elementary. Was it a bit tiring? Sure. Was it immensely rewarding? Absolutely.

My day began with the lively Pre K students. This bunch was so excited to pass out the hugs and get their hands on a book. I read a few scenes from Ford & Red and talked a lost about dreaming. It was a great way to start the day.

I raced back to the Library where I was to present to the first group of the day. The second graders. They trickled in with whispers of “Is that her?” “Is that the author?” I have never felt more like a celebrity, kids have that magic about them, kids know how to lift someone up in an organic way. The organizer introduced me and I ran up to the stage, for my first author school visit of my life.

I was shaking in my boots. Like, literally, shaking. Who knew a group of children could be so intimidating? But there they were, staring up at me with their curious, wandering eyes. And let me tell you, they laugh only when something is truly funny and they fidget when they start getting bored.

I have three different presentations. One for 4yo – Pre K, another for K – third and my last for fourth – fifth.

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My K – third presentation explores the process of creating a story. We explore the nature of getting book ideas, and the kids learn how simple it is to find inspiration. I often start with, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” Most answer with, “Oatmeal, Cereal, Yogurt.” I breathe life into their responses by creating a wild story of a little girl who couldn’t find the spoons, she’s now starving and can’t possibly eat her oatmeal. The children love this and will shout out silly responses like, “The spoons are on the ceiling!!” And that’s what I’m hoping for, they are tapping into their creative thinking and having fun.

We talk about the editing that goes into writing a story and the illustration process. I like to relate this part to their own personal drawings. “Pretend you are drawing a picture of your dad and you accidentally give him Oger arms!!!” The kids laugh hysterically and I have them pull out their imaginary erasers to remove the Oger arms. We do this a few times, so much so, that there’s a pretend hole in their pretend paper from pretend erasing so much. This helps them understand what it takes to get just one character for a children’s book right. (And they’ve laughed a bit, if you go too long without making them laugh, your presentation is a dud).

I always read the book to this age group and make it interactive. I have the kids stand-up and act out each scene as I read the book. My book flips from sleep, to dream, to sleep, to dream, to sleep. The kids love acting out the dreams and then quickly falling asleep. And I have to admit, it’s adorable.

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Following the second graders were the fourth graders. Talk about jumping up in age group. I have a different presentation for these students and had such a great time with them. Their little faces were filled with interest the entire time, it was very fulfilling.

For a

When I ask the fourth and fifth graders if they have big dreams of being a writer one day, you can hear a pen drop.

 

And this is when I truly blow their minds. I share my experiences in Advertising, Journalism and Online Writing. I talk about all of the big brands I’ve worked with and the famous people I’ve interviewed. I even share stories from different parts of the country. All because of my writing degree.

I ask the question again, “do you want to be a writer?” And you can’t control the excitement, every hand shoots in the air and they can’t contain their questions. All of a sudden, we have aspiring journalists, copywriters and authors.

I show them my query letters to publishers and even showcase my many rejection letters. We talk about dedication, persistence and success. I explore fiction writing with this group and encourage them to have wild thoughts that they can turn into stories. They each have a blast creating a story with me, and the more ridiculous you can make it, the better.

The day continued with a catered lunch (thank you Laurel Park Elementary Staff), Kindergarten, First Grade and Third Grade. The third graders were by far the most energetic. At the end of my session, I was literally bombarded with students who wanted me to autograph scrap paper (and homework, of course). Each student wanted a hug and I could see the panic on the teachers faces. I, however, loved every minute of the attention and my brief moment as celebrity. And to know that I made them THAT excited about writing, well my goodness, sign me up for another session.

Instead of selling and autographing books the day of, I had the school collect order forms beforehand. This worked out extremely well and saved a lot of time the day of the event. Students were able to go home with personalized copies of the book!

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And, to close this lengthy blog post are a list of my favorite questions from students:

  1. Are you a mom?
  2. I have a dog.
  3. How do you make your book so wordable?

Are you in Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina and interested in signing your school up for a visit? My author visits are truly a lot of fun! Follow this link to inquire.

Watch the two videos below to hear what Specialists at Laurel Park Elementary had to say about my author visit!

 

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