Today was my last school visit of the 2013-14 school year, and it got me thinking.
Nobody tells you that once you're an author, school visits will be the second best thing about your job (after getting paid to make stuff up.)
OK, not everyone feels this way, but I do. Presenting my work is fun. Talking to kids is really fun.
I visited a lot of great schools this year, but maybe my favorite was St. Joseph School in Mission San Jose, CA. An elementary teacher named Sheila Flanagan made it happen. (Last year, Sheila sent me a sheaf of stories her students wrote based on BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE, and it remains one of the nicest pieces of mail I’ve ever received.)
Sheila got the kids excited and ready to show off their talents when I came to visit St. Joseph. I was greeted with banners and a penguin song-and-dance number led by the president of the school.
Every student from pre-K to 5th grade was involved, and some of them spent their whole recess aftewards talking and drawing with me.
St. Joseph couldn't afford an honorarium, but they gave me thoughtful thank-you presents, including a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants back in Brooklyn. Talk about doing your homework! I felt appreciated. More importantly, I felt useful.
It is true, I occasionally get to a school and no one seems to know I was coming. Incredibly, some of those schools have paid me to come. I'll find myself talking to a roomful of blank faces and leave feeling like an uneaten lunch.
Thankfully, most visits are arranged by enthusiastic teachers and librarians who prepare their kids to learn and have fun. Those are the best!
If your school would like a visit from The Penguion next year, email me! And share my school visit flyer with a teacher or librarian.