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Also, what would teachers like to see visiting authors explore with kids 5-12?
I'd very much appreciate all the suggestion you can offer me.
Middle school kids like to talk to each other so if you can include some peer sharing in your presentation I bet it will work. Also, ask them for their advice in reaching other kids their age.
Have fun. Good luck.
I haven't had a huge amount of experience, although I have visited classes and assemblies of all ages. I've done just fine, but now that September is approaching, I am worrying once again about my material.
My first two books were adult nonfiction books (with full color art). The last two books were picture books. I have a third picture book that's set in rural China.
I'll ask the question here: If I were to visit YOUR schools, what would you
like to have me teach kids? I am a writer and illustrator. I am also working on a graphic novel (literary comics for adults). I speak fluent Mandarin.
My last picture book, Hannah is My Name was about immigration from the perspective of a 7 year-old Chinese girl from Asia. This was the issue I addressed when I visited the handful of schools 3 or 4 years ago. It was fun and easy to engage the students because they all knew of someone who has immigrated or they, themselves are first generation in America.
If I can get more experience with kids, I think I will enjoy being a children's author to the fullest and, more importantly, be helpful to teachers and parents.
I'll explain the new book later, and perhaps you can give me some suggestions on approach.
I'm glad you touched on this point. I will remember this.
Q#2: How do you get the kids writing? Do you do what author/illustraters do? That is, do you ask them for text first and then have them illustrate?
I see in your library a whole set of "how to draw" books. They look helpful.
I've had to really ask myself: who am I and what can I offer children and augment the teacher's work?
I'm thinking I can bring the tools I use. I can talk about where I get my ideas. I can show kids the ground up powder that is used in making tubes of paint and talk about the origin of colors--they don't just originate from a tube. They were mined as lapis lazuli to make ultramarine, etc.
Sorry, I'm thinking aloud here...;)
Wonderful that you're bringing in the whole art aspect to the kids. Since funding is limited, that tends to get cut first...
> If I were to visit YOUR schools, what would you
like to have me teach kids?
I already love that you talk about China! I'll be teaching 2nd grade in the Fall, and I know in Massachusetts and Virginia, China is one of the main countries we study for the 2nd grade. Just having something integrated into an already established curriculum makes a greater impact. If you can find a tie into what the kids are already learning, that will make your presentation even more meaningful and memorable. Find that theme that makes the connection to their world (inside or outside the classroom)! :)
Hope this helps some!
My "Washington Post Book World" comics for the ongoing series, "The Writing Life," came out early to be in time for the Fourth of July. Marie Arana, the editor, wrote a profile on my work. Cut and paste the link below to read the piece. Marie is the highly respected author of "American Chica":
When you get there, click "Against Forgetting," and you'll get the image below. I was asked to do this in color, but I wanted to use pure b&w to depict the Tiananmen Massacre.
I just received my copies of How to Teach Art to Children and Teaching Art with Books Kids Love from Amazon. These volumes look quite good.
I am not a teacher but I have been going to schools, spending entire days with assemblies of children from nursery to high school. It is the most exhilarating, most exhausting work I've ever had to do. Writing or illustrating is a piece of cake by comparison. My learning was trial by fire last year in Boston where I visited schools and the Boston Public Library.
Talking before an adult audience is a piece of cake. You just spill your information. To teach means you must have knowledge and the ability to entertain. I've always had enormous respect for those who teach, and as an adult, I've made a concerted effort to find my grade school, middle school and high school teachers and thank them by taking them out to lunch. Recently, I located my 2nd grade teacher in Japan through various means and was able to thank him properly for turning me on to writing.
This month, I travel to Stockton for 4 days with a group of children's authors. We will "hit" nearly all schools in the district. Stockton is not a place where kids get to meet many working authors so I feel we are all doing an important thing.
I need to sleep but images of the children I met this morning haunt me. I cannot stop the rills of tears. I've driven home from a Central Valley town after four days of giving a total of ten, forty-five minute presentations to children K through 12 (one gang-infiltrated high school and the other, a technical high school with the best and the brightest of Stockton). I have been speaking before adult audiences since 1986 and feel pretty cocky about my abilities to move, teach, inform, entertain. I no longer need a shot of gin before talking. But I am a coward before the small ones.
The schools here are old, built in the 40's. Trailers accommodate the expanding population. Apartments and mobile homes surround the schoolyard. Rain falls steadily on the asphalt of treeless playground, and the sound on the roof is like applause of tiny hands. The teachers I met this morning are harried, wearing Friday frowns of full time police.
After my talk to a second assembly of four hundred 4th to 7th graders, a boy I thought was Latino stops me and tells me his grandfather is half Chinese and half Cambodian and then his words abruptly turn to Medicaid. Medicaid? "Yeah, Medicaid won't pay for my glasses. My head hurts because I need glasses." This, coming from a child of eight or nine. I am stunned. I remember when we arrived in the United States, my father had eighty dollars after paying tuition at SF State and there was no money for my tennis shoes. Hardly money for a dentist when my toothache grew unbearable.
As I lie in bed, I regret I did not get his last name. After three assemblies, I felt as if I had run a marathon followed by an hour in the sauna. I was too limp to remember I should seek the principal. Come Monday, I will contact the school. The boy told me his name was Micky. Desperately seeking Micky. I won't put money in a presidential campaign, but I've got money enough for Micky's glasses.
This, too, I remember from the morning:
Yolanda and John are in the first grade. John helped me shine the too-big-for-his-hands flashlight on my picture book as I tried to negotiate an unwieldy microphone in the dark during a slide show. Sweat pours down my face as I try to control my seething frustration at the awkward setup of projector, mic, lights. I manage to keep the children engaged: there is minimal wiggling and giggling in the auditorium of three hundred midgets.
John's little hands shake and I have trouble seeing. His best friend, Yolanda of the soulful eyes that tilt down, reaches out with a pink hand to hold one end of my book cover. She intuits I am in a bit of a bind. It is such a tender gesture, my heart swells to twice its size. Then John sneezes into my book and microphone.
Later, I asked them to promise me that when they are grown and move away, they will find one another. Their eyes meet in great earnestness, then they turn to nod at me knowingly as if they can already see the future.
I really hope you have luck in finding your little guy without the eye glasses. I remember my first pair of glasses in high school. I was totally blown away by being able to see things I did not even know I was not seeing.
Blessing on you.