Michael's Musings

A Tale from Toronto

…Toronto, Ohio, that is.

When I was recapping ALA Midwinter, I mentioned a cold I’d contracted — now that I’m fully recovered, I’ll write about how I believe I caught it.

My timeline for the 24 hours following ALA was this:

1:30pm, Tuesday — arrive at Dallas airport

6:00pm — board delayed flight back to Pittsburgh

10pm — land back at Pittsburgh airport.

Midnight — sleep comfortably in my own bed

7am, Wednesday — drive out to Toronto, OH (50 miles/1 hour away)

8am — interview with local newspaperman

9am — begin a day-long school visit, with a series of 6 40-minute presentations to various grades ranging from Pre-K to 5th (plus a lunch break).

Normally, my school visits are a single 40-minute session, but with such a range of grades, and school-wide enthusiasm, it ended up becoming a much larger deal.

I met the kids in the library; for each group, the presentation differed some. At the youngest ages, we just held storytime.

Here I am about to open Just Flash for the youngest ones–some as young as 3 years old. Those kids up front were especially interested…

…as you can see! The preschoolers were so well behaved that I read a second story to them: Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.

For kindergarten through the second graders, I did storytime again, but I had them do more predictions between page turns. I also went through the discussion questions that come at the back of my book (a feature of the Tales of Midlandia series).

I bookended the storytime with a short bit on some of my favorite books at the front end, and about 15 minutes of Q&A on the back end — where I answered some really smart questions, by the way!

For the third through fifth grade groups, I did a chapter book excerpt from Latasha, and I also shared writing tips, my philosophy on reading (especially aloud), and an extended Q&A. Folded into the Q&A was a short explanation of how I came to write Latasha. Here I am sharing that:

Those kids in the chairs in the corner are the fifth graders. They were the only grade that preferred not to sit on the floor.

Anyhow, I did this day-long, totally awesome visit with a bunch of great young book-lovers. And mere hours after that…my immune system finally said “Enough!” and went on hiatus.

Of course, I would do this again in a heartbeat.

No, seriously — if you want me to visit your school, either in person or virtually…drop me a line. We’ll work something out.

Until then, you can watch me give a writing talk online. This Wednesday, 2/8 at 3:30pm EST, I’ll be partnering with WQED to do a free webinar aimed at parents and educators who want to help the young writers in their lives develop their skills. It’s part of the programming they’ve got lined up for the “PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest.”

The focus of my webinar is ideation and storyboarding. If you want to tune in, all you have to do is register here.

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