Last week I had the pleasure of visiting an elementary school in Danville, Pennsylvania, and speaking to the third-grade students about my books. I’m well acquainted with the area because my parents are originally from Danville, and I still have many relatives there. In fact, I have two cousins who are third-graders at the school, which made the occasion even more fun.
Liberty Valley Intermediate school has nine third-grade classes, and they were all gathered in the gym to hear me speak (about 200 of them.) I began by talking about my books, and drew pictures on a large tablet. I drew my frog character, then the children gave me suggestions for what to add (fish, birds, butterfly, etc). They came up with lots of great ideas, and I drew as many as I could fit on the page.
Then I offered to read from one of my books. They all voted for Sticky Burr, so I read a few excerpts from the latest book. The students all listened intently, even though the pictures were hard to see at a distance. They asked great questions too.
Finally we did a collaborative story activity, where we all wrote a story together, and I illustrated it as we went along. First I asked the children to suggest an animal that the story could be about. Then I asked where the animal lived, and what could happen to that animal in the story. They had so many good ideas, I wished I could have used them all! I divided up the page into four squares, and drew one scene in each square until we had a complete story.
I told the students that there are countless possibilities when writing a story, and our story could have easily gone in many different directions. That’s one of the great things about writing, that you decide what happens next, and you are only limited by your imagination.
I want to thank all the teachers and the principal at the school for making me so welcome. I had a great time, and I hope my visit inspired some young writers and illustrators!
The bridge over the Susquehanna River, leading into Danville.
Me outside the school.
An enthusiastic audience!
Drawing a story.
Me with some of the teachers.
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