Dramaquill's All Things Writing

January 30, 2012

Visiting the classroom as a Guest Author

I was invited to speak to two classes of children (included 4th, 5th and 6th grade students) for literacy week.  The principal invited local published authors to speak to the kids about what it’s like to be a writer.

I’ve never enjoyed giving a speech.  The thought of being up there alone, and as myself, doesn’t paint a very interesting picture in my mind.  Let me recite a monologue as a fabulous literary character from a great work of fiction, and that excites me.

So how was I going to interest these young minds in two areas that many admitted they didn’t really enjoy doing:  reading and writing.

Instead of giving a speech and trying to figure out how to make them listen to me ramble on about my thoughts on being a writer, I turned the tables to them and started my presentation by asking them some questions:

1.    What makes a book interesting enough for you to want to read it?

2.    What types of characters do you enjoy?

3.    What kinds of stories interest you?

4.    What turns you off in a book?

The enthusiastic hand waving instantly got us talking.  Even those kids who said they really didn’t like to read much had comments on what types of stories they would prefer if they did have to read a book.

Next, I presented them with this question:

Have you ever read a story and wished you could have changed it?

This engaged even more enthusiasm as student after student offered their imaginative ways to improve upon stories they’d read.  They got excited when I told them that being a writer meant that they could make the story be whatever they wanted.  The characters would be designed by their imaginations.  Eager hands raised and creative ideas flowed as students, guest writer and teacher all engaged in the excitement of the writing process.

Finally, I offered a way to prompt them on starting a story.  I asked them all to close their eyes and ask themselves this question…What if? 

What if when I went to sleep tonight…
What if my lunch box was filled with…
What if the teacher could…
What if the stairs at school turned into jello…
What if I could draw something and it would come to life and…

Now the students were really excited and wanted to write their own *what if* story.

I also showed them some of the magazines, anthologies and market books I’ve had work published in and talked to them a little about what it takes to write an entire book and the process required to get it published.  They seemed most impressed with the fact that something that they could create could actually earn them some money as a career someday.

I hope that my visit helped convince many of them to enter the writing contest being held in our city next month.  I do know that I definitely helped them get a jump-start on tapping into their own creative ideas.

But the best part of the visit was watching them get excited about reading and writing. 

As a writer, what do you do to inspire those around you?

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2 Comments »

  1. Hurray for brave Jaclyn. I can’t imagine you NOT knowing what to say around kids. Nice summary of your presentation. Wish I could have been there, waving my hand, too, to be called upon.

    Comment by sandy Carlson — January 30, 2012 @ 3:59 PM | Reply

  2. Wouldn’t it have been a real trip to speak to the kids together? Oh what fun we’d have!

    Comment by dramaquill — February 1, 2012 @ 11:34 AM | Reply


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