Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thank You, Sherwood School!

Yesterday I visited Sherwood School, in Highland Park, Illinois. It was such a lovely afternoon, and I was bummed that my camera was out of battery power. Hopefully the wonderful media specialist there, Helen Weiss, will send me some pictures soon. But here are a few highlights:

1. What a location! Sherwood is just five minutes from my house, so there was no way for me to get lost. That's always a plus.

2. When I checked in at the school office, there was a sign there welcoming me, and the receptionist greeted me warmly. You may think that's no big deal, but I've been to schools where the words "visiting author" are met with confused stares.

3. There was another cute sign made for me in the library. And the projector and sound system worked perfectly right off the bat. Hallelujah!

4. I spoke in a cozy library to about 60 kids at a time. The kids AND teachers paid attention, and some of the teachers even took notes.

5. One student, Sydney, won a raffle prize of a backstage pass to my visit. Sydney got to wear a special VIP pass, she introduced me to the students, and she had a front row seat. She also won two autographed books. This was all coordinated by the media specialist. What a great idea!

6. The students were prepared. They had visited my website beforehand and were familiar with me and my books. What a difference this makes!

7. The students were engaged. They laughed, and oohed and ahhed, and applauded at all the right moments. You could hear a pin drop when I told them the true story that inspired Julia's Kitchen. They asked good questions, and they answered all my questions with enthusiasm.

8. The students were funny. When I asked how many kids thought they might grow up to be writers, one boy said he would if his basketball career didn't pan out. There were lots more funny comments and questions. I swear, I love fourth and fifth graders so much!

9. The students were inspired. It was cool to speak to kids from my hometown. I think they've got to be thinking, "Wow, if someone from Highland Park can make her dreams come true, maybe I can, too." I loved seeing all their eager and excited faces. I also loved seeing children of some friends of mine!

10. I loved watching the kids choose which giveaway to take at the end of my presentation. Most popular item was the Camper Extraordinaire bracelet. I must admit, it's pretty cool.

And I can't ignore the fact that at the end of this wonderful afternoon, the media specialist handed me a check. Some people think if you write a book, you've hit the big time... you're rich. It's unfortunately not true. I don't know many authors who can make a living off of royalties alone. We make our living by writing lots of books, doing school visits, teaching, etc. So yes, we get paid for our presentations. But the  biggest pay off of all is knowing that I've written books that are touching kids' hearts and minds. You can't put a price on that.


Lisa said...

That is so cool, Bren. You're really making a difference to a lot of kids.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how excited that little girl was who had the backstage pass, getting to introduce a REAL LIVE author. I remember when an author came to my middle school, and there was a Q&A. I was so nervous to ask her how she kept track of all the thoughts in her head, how she'd remember everything she wanted to write down. She said, "That's a great question..." and said she kept a notebook with her wherever she went. To this DAY, I still remember that day, that comment, and that feeling I had of talking to a REAL LIVE author. The magic is there, and you definitely made it happen for those kids, Brenda. Bravo, and thanks for sharing.

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Lisa. I think the kids are making a difference in my life, too! It's a totally odd thing to feel a bit like a celebrity! I imagine it's how teachers feel when their student spot them at the grocery store. :-)

Brenda Ferber said...

I love that you met an author when you were growing up. I never did. I didn't think "author visits" existed then. You should let that author know about the impact she had on you!