Thursday, January 17, 2013
Inspiring Author Visit
I marvel at how things happen sometimes. A month ago I wrote about the historical research some of my fourth graders were conducting as they began to read historical fiction novels in small groups. One of those novels was Black Radishes. The book's author discovered my post and commented that she would be willing to visit with the readers. And so, this morning many of my favorite fourth graders visited with author Susan Lynn Meyer this morning - via Skype.
Despite the technological challenges (inability to access Skype on the classroom PC, borrowing the principal's laptop, inability to get sound via the LCD projector and SMART Board, losing power on the laptop, accessing Skype via my iPad and holding it aloft for the last 10 minutes), they absolutely loved talking with Susan! She shared vignettes and anecdotes (two things we have been discussing in writing workshop) about her father's family. She told them about the secrets behind the chosen names for the main character. She answered their carefully composed questions with humor and patience. She even got on a chair to hold up the 9 pages of editorial suggestions she received from her editor! All the while, they were riveted to the tiny laptop screen and iPad screen, taking in her responses with nods and verbal affirmations. If not for data privacy, I would show the image of them staring at Susan on the screen.
My favorite things were when she commented that "historical fiction is the closest you can get to time travel", when she told the children she wanted to be a writer because she has always loved to read, and when she suggested considering three possible plot events (and choosing one to write) when one is "stuck" as a writer. It was an inspiring visit for so many reasons.