Monday, March 6, 2017

The Unexpected Magic of Author Visits

This past week it was my privilege to visit two local schools: Thompson Intermediate School in Alabaster, Alabama, where I shared time with 4th and 5th graders, and Berry Middle School in Hoover, Alabama, where I spoke with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Read all about it in the Hoover Sun! Attention local schools: I offer half-price visits to schools in the Birmingham metro-area who schedule visits one year in advance. Now booking for 2018! More details at the School Visits page of my website.

These are both big suburban schools, with 400-500 kids in each grade level, so in each case, I spoke to one grade-level at a time, in the gym. And It. Was. Awesome.

First, Thompson. This was librarian Christi King's first author visit, and wow, did she do a great job! She was even able to overcome a last minute book-ordering issue with grace and success. Everyone I met was so sweet -- these kids are getting a lot of love! I am so grateful to be even the tiniest part of that.

One of the best parts was lunching with a few students who asked me questions for a school newspaper article. These girls were so fun and savvy... I predict great things in their future!

And check out this cake for Dr. Seuss's birthday! (From Edgar's Bakery. It was delicious.)

Now for Berry Middle. Many authors are intimidated by middle schoolers. They are notoriously hard to engage. NOT THESE STUDENTS.
I loved my time with these kids, how we visited while signing books, and the great questions they asked during my sessions. What a great learning environment! And educators and parents, you know this doesn't just happen. It starts at the top! Thank you to principal Chris Robbins and especially to librarian Ginger Hewitt, who took such great care of me (reminding me to take a potty break, giving me a few minutes of down-time, etc...) and had things so well-organized, it was a dream.

A highlight of this visit was during the special lunch when students (and a teacher!) read their favorite parts from both LEAVING GEE'S BEND and DON'T FEED THE BOY. It's been a while since I wrote those books, so it was like hearing someone else's words... and I was touched by their choices... and also, unexpectedly, inspired.

I have struggled lately with new projects, and this made me feel like, yes, I can do this. I have done it before. And it just made me really want to hang in there, to give great kids like these a new, exciting reading experience. It's an honor to be a part of anyone's reading life. And it's a little bit magic: the magic of connection. Of people. Of hope and love and literature. I can't think of a better reason to write books.

Finally, here is a bonus gift from a sweet, talented 5th grader:

Thank you, Amelia! And thanks everyone so much for reading!


  1. Aww, such terrific connections! Hats off to the coordinators who helped behind the scenes with your visits. (I first read the title of this post as "The Unexpected Author of Magic Visits," which still kinda works!)

  2. Thank you so much for your kind comments, Mrs. Latham. You were a big hit with the Berry kids, and I really enjoyed getting to know you and listening to your thoughts and presentations. It was truly our pleasure to have you, and we will definitely be in touch for future visits! Best of luck with your new endeavors, Ginger Hewitt


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