By Rebecca Talley
Yesterday I had the privilege of doing a school presentation. I presented in individual classrooms.
In the 1st grade class, I donned my headband with antennas attached and read my picture book, Grasshopper Pie. I let one of the kids hold a large plastic grasshopper and put a smaller one on my finger to help me tell the story. I shared how this story was based on an experience with my kids when they tried, unsuccessfully (thank goodness), to feed me a live grasshopper. I also showed the kids the proof and an original watercolor illustration. They seemed to enjoy it and asked me a lot of questions. 1st graders are wiggly so I knew I had to be animated and entertaining.
I then presented to the 4th graders who were much less wiggly. While writing my book, I tried to build up to the climatic moment and yesterday I was pleased with the reaction by the kids. They all started laughing and gasping just before the mom gets the grasshopper in her mouth. I also shared my process with getting my novel, Heaven Scent, published. I showed them the notes I wrote and a couple of the proofs as well as the edit requests from my editor. I wanted to emphasize that rewriting and editing are part of the writing process. One girl wanted to know if you could turn in your manuscript with smears on it, you know, after you'd erased your mistakes. Her comment made me realize how fortunate we are to have computers. I remember writing on my lined paper and erasing mistakes, only to rip the page, and have to start over. Or using a typewriter only and having to use the correction ribbon or type it on erasable onion skin paper. We've come a long way since then. I explained to her that you have to write your story on a computer and edit it right on the computer and then the mistakes aren't noticeable anymore.
To conclude, I presented to a large 3rd grade class and ended up speaking to them for an hour. They had so many questions about submitting stories and writing. It was so fun to see the excitement and how most of the hands went up when I asked who kept a writing journal. I also asked what was the one thing that could help a writer the most. After a few answers one girl said, "Read." I told her that was absolutely right. The more we read the better writers we'll become and the more we write the better writers we'll become, they're both intertwined.
It was great to see such enthusiasm. I had a lot of fun and hope to be able to do more school presentations.