Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why kids love author visits

Had a great author visit yesterday at Parkside Elementary in Menlo Park, CA. Here I am with Jamie, Brianna and Maya, winners of the "have lunch with the author lottery." Great school and great kids; everybody had a blast—especially me!

I try to imbue my school visits with a stand-up comedy concert vibe. It's been years since I did real stand-up comedy, but doing author presentations is amazingly similar. Kids love hearing about my goofy kids and I love making them laugh. I think it makes a real and lasting impact to meet the author or illustrator behind a book; we're not odd creatures (maybe odd people, but not odd creatures!). They learn that authors and illustrators are just regular people like them, and perhaps they too can do something as amazing as writing a book. (Hey, if Mr. Dave Keane can do it, maybe anybody can do it!)

And not only do kids love the break from routine, but I think the teachers enjoy a nice break for once, too!

It's been horribly slow on the school visit front these days, mostly because California has budget woes that could only be fixed by King Midas himself. But luckily some schools manage to procure the funding and I get the chance to entertain kids with stuff like where ideas really come from and how they can create a new character in 25 seconds or less. Best of all, I know when I leave there are roughly 450 kids who are newly interested in reading books. I guess that, after all, is my job.