More School Visits for Vodnik

I did a few more school class visits for Vodnik this past week. I’ve been going over to see local 6th graders during their library visits, talking to them about the book, how I came up with the idea, how I managed to finish it–that sort of thing. Typically I know it’s something authors charge for, but when it comes to supporting my local school district, I’m more than willing to donate my time. Plus, it’s fun. 🙂

A few interesting/funny stories from this last round of visits:

  • One of the students walked into the room, came right up to me–before I’d said a single word–and handed me his hat. “Will you sign this?” he asked. I stared at him. Sign his hat? That just felt . . . wrong somehow. I mean, why in the world would the kid want me to sign his hat? “Are you serious?” I asked. If the kid wasn’t joking, I didn’t want to turn him down. He swore he wasn’t. So I signed the hat. I hope his parents don’t wonder what sort of a hack author wrote all over their kid’s hat.
  • At the end of my talk, I hand out business cards to all the kids. They’ve got the cover of the book on them, and the kids are usually quite excited to get one. (Excited enough that I feel vaguely guilty that someone should be that excited to get a business card. I don’t know why.) But at the end of one of the classes, one kid asked me to sign the back of his card. (Ten guesses which kid.) I said sure, and before I knew it, I had a line of 30 kids in front of me, all waiting for me to sign the business card I’d just given them. I signed them all, of course, but I did (again) feel like a bit of a con. Why in the world would anyone want me to sign my business card? This is a feeling I’m going to have to get over.
  • I wear my t-shirt to each of these presentations, and kids really love it. I’ve had offers to buy the shirt from me. If they knew it glowed in the dark, I probably wouldn’t make it out of the room with it on.
  • I’m always interested to see what questions the kids come up with to ask me. A lot of them are focused on the cover, which the kids almost universally love–especially the boys. (Yay!) They want to know why Tomas’s arm is on fire, and when I decline to tell them (I do a lot of “Read and Find Outs” in these presentations), they come up with a series of possible explanations, and then ask me if each one is the right one. There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth when I never tell them.
  • I read the first few pages from Vodnik, and that gets a lot of them more interested. The evening after one of my presentations, a coworker emailed me to let me know that he had come home from work to find that his daughter had come back from school and begged his wife to pick up a copy of Vodnik from the local bookstore. She was on the couch, nose deep in the book. So I guess something I’m saying is getting their interest. 🙂
Really, my hope in these visits isn’t to get kids to buy my book. It’s to get them interested in reading and writing. Maybe that sounds pretty far-fetched, but it’s the truth. These kids are so excited to see me come. Some of them want to ask about how they can get published. Others are focused on how I finish a book, or where I get my ideas. I’ve been very happy to see plenty of boys be very interested in the book and the process, because I feel like boys are the ones who give up reading the fastest in school. Hopefully that’s changing.
In any case, it was a fun few hours, and a nice break from my normal library job. And hey–everybody likes to feel like a celebrity now and then. Even if we do feel like a bit of a poser when someone asks us to sign their hat. 🙂

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