During my book tour in Georgia, I was reunited with one of my greatest friends from college. She has been a teacher for many years and recently transitioned into being the literacy coach at Tussahaw, how perfect for me right? She was the first to get an author visit on the books. And I, of course, was pumped to spend some time with her, witness the greatness of her coaching and love on her students.
Miss Dodgen decided to bring me in as a special guest and reward for the students who completed their reading programs. I thought that was such a unique and encouraging idea. Let’s face it, kids lose their love for reading somewhere between first and fourth grade, and once that love is lost, it’s her to get back. Miss Dodgen made it her mission to restore that passion in her students.
Her and the teachers were reminding them daily of the reading party! If you complete your task, you get to meet a real author, hear her story and ask her every question under the sun. Now, that is fantastic teaching. They aren’t rewarding with candy or extra recess, they are rewarding the students with the task at hand. Teaching them that reading and writing is a journey to be cherished and loved.
I met with a few different age groups throughout the day and was impressed with their knowledge of my job. These kids were particularly interested in how I changed my run of the mill book into a published superstar of a story.
I’ll start at the beginning. I explained to them the heartbreak of being rejected by publishers. “My story was too ordinary,” I said. “They needed something unique.”
The students were eager to hear what I did to manipulate the story. I had them flip through the book and guess what changes I made. To my surprise, they hit the nail on the head.
“You brought things like the sand and the elephant from the dream back to bed with them!” Yes. That’s right. They were right. Wow, these kids are smart.
I took elements from the dream world and placed them in the bed with Ford & Red, giving it the twist, juice and uniqueness the story needed.
The teachers at Tussahaw encourage each student to carry a notebook around with them. When they stumble across something interesting, they should write about it or draw a picture. I love this idea and used it in my presentations.
“You guys have these wonderful tools! Notebooks and pens. Use them. Every day. That’s the only way I am able to create good content.” I have a feeling these students will be dusting off those “annoying” notebooks and writing future award winning stories.
What a great visit. I will be back with my second book and hope to see even more students at the reward party! And what a great idea, encouraging the students to complete their reading by throwing a REAL LIVE AUTHOR PARTY! Go ahead, steal this idea.