Author School Visit: Matt Elementary

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Today was one of my favorite days as a children’s author. I visited my hometown. I spent time at the place that helped me grow into the professional I am today.

Matt Elementary School invited me to do an author visit for their nine Kindergarten classes. And what a lively group of kids they were.

I adore Kindergarten students, they are extremely genuine and are filled with hope and light. Their presence simply inspires me to enjoy the greater, the lesser, the sweeter things in life. Just look how sweet they are!

As always, I start my visits with an introduction of what an author is and what an illustrator does. And honestly, the kids are so stinkin’ smart, they know exactly what my job entails!

I show them my very first drafts, fit with the red markings of my editor. I then lead into the illustrations process, showing them raw sketches of the characters. I have them grab their pretend pencils and pretend paper and draw their pretend dad. I often put the dad in high heels and the class erupts in laughter. I tell them to grab their pretend erasers and draw the right type of shoes. This helps them understand the process of illustrating a character.

We chat about storyboarding the book, submitting to publishers and getting accepted. I love to teach resilience by showing the students my many rejection letters. This isn’t to disappoint them but to show them how hard work and persistence can pay off.

Finally, we read the story. I love to make this part interactive by having the students standup and act out each scene as I read the book. This is always fun!

The coolest part of this visit was coming across my past. One of the Kindergarten teachers happened to be MY second grade teacher and the moment was surreal. She was one of the most inspirational and influential teachers I’ve ever had, I’ve thought about her often and believe it was fate that we were brought back together.

In fact, the very first children’s book I wrote and made was in her class in second grade. It was called, “The Dog Who Jumped Over The House.” It was riveting. The kids were tickled to hear that THEIR teacher was MY teacher when I was a kid. I love making and showcasing connections like that! Thank you Miss Skidmore for being you, for being who you were in my life and for being there today.

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Thank you to Matt Elementary for welcoming me with open arms. I can still hear the laughter of 6 and 7 year old’s and am thankful that my job is one that promotes an abundance of smiles.

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