A School Visit – late October 2017 – 350 children
Recently I had the opportunity to visit a school situated in North Vancouver. I was booked for four sessions with three classes attending each session. The librarian grouped the children by age so that I could tailor my talks to each learning level. I had so much fun. At first I was apprehensive. It’s a long time since I’ve stood in front of a class, let alone groups that large.
I met with the librarian a week or so beforehand as I wanted to have a clear idea of expectations and also the layout of where I would be speaking. The overall purpose for having me visit was to foster in the children a love of reading, story, and learning. Of course, I spent plenty of time putting together a series of lesson plans and also some props for the talks. Once an educator always an educator, I guess. Roland and I edited together a short video and that helped break the ice.
Over the course of the morning , I talked about:
What a story is · I pointed out that we all tell the stories of our lives every day and gave the example of telling your parents what you did in a day · How we communicate, why it’s important · We touched on early forms of writing · I read several short passages from my books to illustrate some points · I told a story to the youngest group·The 3 Little Pigs. Always one of my favorites. I read an unpublished potential picture book of mine · We talked about sailing ships · Which led to sea shanties and why they were used.
With the older children I got into the mechanics of writing:
The importance of good research to make your story feel real · How long the first draft took · The absolute importance of editing · The editing I do as the writer, to make it as perfect as I can · The crucial step of a professional editor.
The objective set of eyes who will see errors that you missed. We also worked through making the language of the book richer. Finding the exact word to describe a feeling, an expression, or a scene.
The importance of building interesting secondary characters. Setting a scene precisely without pages of description. Building action into the descriptions. Having the characters interact with the scene rather than just stand there and look at it.
The importance of expanding your vocabulary. As a self-published author I spent some time with the oldest group, talking about the changes that self-publishing has made to the industry and the problems one encounters as a self-published author as opposed to the more traditionally published.
I would like to do a lot more school visits.
Since this encounter with the children, I have given more thought to what I would like to accomplish in the future. I would like to do a lot more school visits. They’re wonderful and to experience the enthusiasm and vigor of the children is like a tonic. My books are deemed middle grade, but they resonate with older readers as well. I can see that I could speak to junior high students to good effect as well.
(G.Rosemary Ludlow 10 December 2017)