Let's give kids the write stuff!

For the Love of Authors

Being a kindergarten teacher means I am always looking for ways to foster literacy in the classroom.  One of the best ways, I think, is to have children meet the authors of their favourite books.  And let’s face it, children’s authors are my rock stars, so I’m definitely getting something out of this too!  When children meet their favourite authors, it makes them want to write too so they try harder to learn how to do that and do it well.

One of my favourites is Barbara Reid.  She is the picture book author/illustrator that uses plasticine as an illustrating medium. My first and favourite is Tell Me a Story as it literally illustrates the joy of reading with children.  I saw on her website that she’d been to my area and thought maybe she’d be returning soon and could make a visit to our school.

Well, it wouldn’t be this year.  As one might expect, she is a popular visitor to schools and is all booked up until next year.  And, it is quite expensive to book her and other authors for such visits.  It can cost anywhere from $500-1000!  That’s a big piece of a school’s budget!

Just before my son entered kindergarten, his school won a visit from Robert Munsch!  At the time, I was a home daycare provider and had been bringing children to the school for years.  I begged the principal to let me sneak in the back and participate in this rare opportunity!  I’m so glad she allowed me to do so!  It was just as fun as I’d imagined!  We were able to get one of his books autographed and a photo taken with my son.  In retrospect, I should have had a picture taken of myself with Mr. Munsch!  My son does not look impressed in the picture (he later told me he was feeling shy).  Me?  I was bouncing up and down, nearly vibrating, I was fangirling so hard!  You’d think I was a teenager and this was the latest boy band I was meeting!  Now, due to his health, Mr. Munsch no longer does public appearances.  But we got to meet him.  Later, I wrote to him asking advice on how to go about getting my own picture books published.  Did I need an agent, is there anything else he could tell me that might point me in the right direction?  The day his response arrived in the mail, I was over the moon!  Robert Munsch wrote me back!!  And it was good, friendly advice!  Encouragement from one of my favourite authors spurred me on!

And so it can be for children.  Take them to meet their favourite authors.  Take them to meet any author, and then read those books to them (at the appropriate age, naturally. If you ever have the opportunity to introduce them to Stephen King (or your own favourite author) in person, do so!  Even if they have to wait to read his books!)  Let them see that the name on the cover is a real person just like them.  That writing is something they can do too! And that writing and reading are fun and exciting things!

Why all this hype about inspiring a love of reading and writing?  Because, as I always say, Literacy is the key that opens all doors.

If someone loves reading and writing, they will love learning and reporting on what they learn, and so they will love school.  They will stay in school and pursue education.  They will be able to learn anything because they will want to learn everything.

Can you imagine a better gift to give a child?

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