Abbotts Creek Elementary School – Raleigh NC invited me to be a special guest at their book fair. First of all, what a beautiful school! It has been open for just 3 years and is filled with artwork, happy children and enthusiastic teachers.
The book fair was from 6:00pm – 8:00pm and while the library was filled with amazing pieces by well known authors, the students were more than thrilled to meet a local author. A lot of students looked at me with wide eyes and jaws dropped, I could see future writers and illustrators in my presence.
They even had some pretty great questions prepared. One fifth grader asked me, “So, tell me the truth. Is it really boring to be a writer?” Oh buddy, let me tell you, not all of my days are filled with beautiful events like this.
In fact, just that morning I was at my desk with my head in my hands, trying to get the outline for my third book. All I could think about was “what will I eat for lunch today? What’s that sound? Is that a cricket? Let’s investigate!”
So yes, some days are boring and frustrating and hard, but some days are lively and creative and fulfilling. No matter what you’re doing in life, find a way to gracefully navigate through the frustrating. Because the fulfilling is incredibly gratifying.
Thank you Abbotts Creek Elementary School – Raleigh NC for creating one of those gratifying and fulfilling moments with me.
This past Monday, I literally walked from my house to the elementary school across the street for an all day author school visit. Talk about convenience!
I love this school. HCES is in its first year of existence, and it’s getting a lot right. For example, while setting up, I was visited by the yoga instructor who teaches a 30 minute yoga class for students. She does this every Monday morning before school starts. Talk about getting your week started off in a zen way.
It was a full day of visits, beginning at 9:15am with the 2nd graders and ending at 2:00pm with the 4th graders. With bigger schools like this, breaking the presentations up by grade level makes the most sense. This means six 30-minute presentations with over 100 students in each group.
The PTA was wonderful and provided lunch for me, a nice break in the middle of my presentations. I get to rest my voice, gather my thoughts and fuel up for the next 1.5 hours of presenting.
Like my past school visits, I have separate presentations for K-3 and 4-5. With the younger grades, I focus on the story itself. We talk about the difference between the author and illustrator and where I generate my ideas. We also talk about submitting the story to publishers, how it feels to be rejected and ways you can improve from those rejections. I often relate this to playing on a sports team or getting a bad grade, this seems to be a tangible metaphor for the students.
At the end, I read the story and open the floor for questions (for the younger kids, I recommend allowing a max of three questions, once you allow for chatter, you will lose their interest).
The 4th and 5th graders get a more in-depth synopsis of what it means to be a writer. I delve into the different types of writing from advertising to journalism and being an author. I am lucky to have had experience in all areas of writing, my goal with the older kids is to generate an excitement for writing. I want to keep the skill alive and thriving in the hearts of our future.
The story is a bit too young for the 4th and 5th graders so I do not read it out loud. However, I have them chime in on changes that I needed to make in order to have a publisher pick it up. They leave with an understanding of creating a unique story and submitting it to a publisher.
And most importantly, they know to write in pencil and to use that eraser until it falls off!
“Hearing Jacqueline Boeheim speak was a wonderful experience for my students. Not only did she talk to them about her job as a children’s author, but she also taught them about critical life skills like perseverance and bravery. She encouraged my students to take risks and never give up. She did a wonderful job engaging all of the students in my school, from kindergarten to 5th grade. I’d thoroughly recommend her!”
Alexis Kagel, Music Teacher, Hortons Creek Elementary
Cheers to HCES and its lovely students. And if you are interested in booking a school visit, click here.
If your kids love music and love dancing, they would have truly enjoyed this special event put on by Macaroni Kid of North Raleigh. If you’ve never heard of Macaroni Kid, it’s a pretty brilliant organization for families. Just sign up to receive their weekly newsletter an you will learn about unique events happenings around town. They’ve created wonderful partnerships with libraries, schools and other organizations to bring you the coolest events.
Macaroni Kid and Imurj in downtown Raleigh put on a pretty awesome concert for kids. That’s right, it was a concert for kids at a warehouse type location in Raleigh. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of experience that I want my own children to enjoy. Nathan Ryan was the headliner and had the kids dancing, singing and partying all night long.
Attendees ranged from infants to pre-teens. Of course, parents and grandparents were all in attendance hootin’ and hollerin’ along with the music. The songs were kid friendly and simply encouraged movement. It was such a wonderful evening that celebrated the arts.
And speaking of the arts, I was pumped to receive an invitation to join this event as a vendor. I met a lot of excited parents and kiddos. A handful of older kids were peppering me with questions about writing and publishing and the younger kids had complete wonder in their eyes when they heard I was the author. For me, it’s so much more than selling copies of my books, it’s about the kids. It’s about the arts. It’s about the love for writing!!
I had my trusty bookmark table and it was filled all night long. It’s amazing what cardstock, markers and stickers can do for the soul. So, for two hours, these kids had music, books and arts & crafts! No one was bored.
Imurj is an arts and entertainment venue that caters to adults and children. On Wednesday nights they will have open mic night for kids, I imagine we will see some future grammy winners on that stage. You can also book the venue for shows and events.
And without further ado, please enjoy this clip from Nathann Ryan!
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.
My book tour in Georgia took me to many wonderful places and spaces, including a sweet little town called McDonough, Georgia. I have never experienced the charm of this town and felt so blessed to enjoy its beauty for a short time.
Hickory Flat Elementary School welcomed me with open arms, literally, such a loving and wonderful group of kids and teachers. It was quite a full day with six 30 minute presentations, all before 1pm! I knew a day like this would either make me or break me.
And guess what?
It totally made me.
I left the school feeling extremely high on life and in love with my job as a children’s author.
The very first comment from a student had me chuckling. A little girl walked by and said, “Are you the author? Wow, you’re pretty!” I said thank you and she followed up with, “Well, most authors I know are really old and wrinkly.” So there you have it, I was feeling young and accomplished. 😉
I have two different presentations, one for K-2 and one for 3-5. I don’t read the book to the 3-5 group, but honestly, at the end of each presentation I can see it in their eyes that they want me to read the book. If only we had enough time!!
My favorite part of each presentation is when I showcase my rejection letters. What I love about the above picture is how intently the students are reading each letter, they were filled with interest. And when I later showed them my two acceptance letters, someone asked me to read one out loud. So, I did and once I was done, the crowd was roaring with cheers, yelps and clapping. Ahh, I got goose bumps. The teachers got goose bumps. I had gotten through to these kids and it was showing in big ways!
One of my most memorable moments with the first grade group was the idea of using your imagination. In Kindergarten the students are learning how to write from their own non-fiction personal experiences and in first grade they begin dabbling into fiction. After I read the book, one little boy raised his hand and said, “But the elephant can’t really come back to bed with you!” And it was the perfect transition into us talking about fiction.
I asked the group to share with me a personal experience from the day. I took that personal experience and added an element of fiction. They laughed and shook their heads in understanding. I explained to them that we all have dreams, but I added a bit of fiction by bringing an element from the dream world back to bed.
I did all of the fancy author things like hugging the students, chatting with teachers and signing books. I was so taken back by the praise I received from the teachers, as they seemed genuinely impressed by the presentations. My goal is to meet the needs of the students and the teachers, I want the teachers to feel like they have talking points to share with their students after the presentations.
Media Consultant, Kristy Sullivan, had a great review of the day and has already invited me back.
“We enjoyed our author visit with Jacqueline Leigh so very much. She spoke with students from 1st to 5th grade and had wonderful presentations that were age appropriate and entertaining. Teachers could not stop raving and speaking highly of the quality and content of the presentation as well as Jacqueline’s ability to maintain student attention. All of our students were so intrigued by the lessons she taught them about perseverance and using our mistakes to make us better individuals. Her love for her work was apparent and I believe will encourage students to follow their dreams and work towards achieving their goals. We can’t wait for our next visit with Jacqueline!”
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.
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.
Read With Me, A Children’s Bookshop in Raleigh is a young bookstore with (already) great success. The doors have been open for six months and the staff is here to celebrate children’s literacy and education. Upon arrival, you are immediately spellbound by the decor, books and crafts surrounding you.
I was invited to be a guest reader on a Saturday at 11:00am, during one of their regular story-times. I was thrilled to share my craft with the community at such a wonderful bookstore.
They have the greatest seating that back’s up to a wall of windows. It gives the kids an option to pay attention to the reader or people watch (you can, after all, learn a lot from doing both)! As you can tell here, my very own mother-in-law and son were so entranced with the sidewalk that they weren’t even paying attention. I guess once you’ve heard the book a thousand times, you’re kind of over it, right?
After my readings, I love chatting about the types of dreams that kids experience at night. One little boy was so excited to tell me about sailing on the wide open sea in his latest dream. Another claims he could fly without a cape. This type of imagination and excitement for the make believe world is what I hope for and encourage at my author visits.
Read With Me was kind enough to put together a craft that followed the reading. Kids were pumped to make their very own lanterns to take home. These lanterns were filled with glitter and topped with a beaded handle. I love anything that can help children get excited about bedtime.
If you’re ever in downtown Raleigh, pop into this store. The owner, Christine, is very careful about selecting beautifully made books. The store is organized by age and book type, making it dangerously easy to find just what you need. I, personally, left with a make your own board book kit. You’ve got to start them young, right?
The Raleigh Makers Market is a monthly handmade market that celebrates the local makers, creators and musicians in our area. I was beyond thrilled when they invited me to be a part of their October market.
The market is held in the Raleigh Beer Garden event field and it couldn’t be a more perfect space. There are picnic tables, games, and easy access to food and beverages. I was (literally) in Heaven.
I setup my booth (well, if you want to call it that. I’m not fancy enough to have a tent yet) by the games, strategic right? Where the kids would be toying around. I had many books and the bookmark table, which is always a hit with the kids.
I was surrounded by so many talented people, I was in awe and inspired by their expertise. I saw leather jewelry, paintings, tassel earrings, wood art and even dogs for adoption. In a way, I didn’t feel up to snuff to be in the midst of these hard-workers.
But, you know what, I was up to snuff and I admitted to myself that I MADE IT, I have a product that I created and I am proud to stand behind it!
I met a lot of proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles at the event. I am always impressed with their love for local authors and giving the gift of reading to their little ones. I also came across a few aspiring writers and can find myself lost in conversation with them for quite some time. Because, although I’ve made it, I am still an aspiring writer. I am struggling to get my third book down on paper, I am struggling to make sense of it, I am an aspiring writer. I love relating to people on so many levels.
I will be back at this Market, I can promise you that!
Have you ever imagined a place where mess is allowed, creativity is celebrating and kids are just down right happy? I have some news for you, that place does exist.
Nestled in Durham, NC is Bull City Craft, a crafting and painting studio for kids, teenagers and adults. This space is really here to fulfill the creative need of all ages.
I was invited to come in and host a story time, and of course, I jumped on the opportunity. This event was so special as it exercised creativity of all facets.
Upon arrival, I met a few folks who work there. And, oh my gosh. What a kind and vibrant bunch. I was immediately uplifted and excited to be in their company for the next hour. I was planning, in my head, on how I could get my own children to enjoy that space EVERY SINGLE DAY. This is still in the works. 🙂
We had a nice size group of kids who ranged in all ages. I love when I have a variety in the audience, I know the book will trigger excitement in a different way for each age.
I read the story and later joked that the reading was my monologue. Because seriously, I have the book memorized and can read it with the right inflections, moods and thrill when needed.
The studio was kind enough to follow-up the reading with a dream catcher craft. The craft perfectly complimented the book and I was pumped to see what the kids would come up with.
The kiddos were busying themselves with string, markers and beads (by the way, Bull City makes all of their own beads!) I was having a blast signing copies of the book for the families who were on the hunt for a new bedtime read. And a word to the wise, if you are signing your books with sharpies, maybe try to find a hiding place from the kids. Unless you want various items decorated with metallic sharpie.
All in all, this was a wonderful event. We even chatted about craft projects for my next book, so be on the lookout, the party train will be back! And if you’re on the hunt for fun activities for your kids, check this place out, it’s only $6 to play for the whole day. They have paint, crayons, paper, playdoh, toys, etc. And they truly love it when the kids make a mess. A messy kid is a happy kid!
Thank you Bull City team for being that special light in so many lives. I am blessed beyond measure that I got to meet you and experience your happy place.
And a quick thank you to Morgan Henderson Photography for capturing the event!