Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Helping Children Write

I frequently volunteer at my girls' school and know most of the teachers. In fact, the principal was my fifth grade English teacher, way back in the 70's. So when one of the teachers who I also consider a friend asked me to come speak to her enrichment cluster, I immediately agreed.

Enrichment clusters in the Jefferson Parish Public magnet school system are the equivalent of electives. This particular elective was for the purpose of writing the school newsletter, and included students in third through fifth grade.

I spoke briefly about the things involved in getting published- writing the book, finding an agent or publisher, and then promotion. I explained that writers do not generally get rich, and unless they were one of the few who make it big, they would probably need to keep a day job. I told them the three most important things they could do to was to read as much as possible, write as much as they could, every day if they were able, and to continue to educate themselves, even after they graduate college. I told them I take online courses and buy reference books all the time to hone my craft.

One fifth grader, who happens to be best friends with my daughter, asked the winning question- how do you get your books into book stores to sell and who gets to decide that.

At the end of the class, I received a treat from the teacher. Ms. Bourgeois put the Jefferson Parish Public Library website up on her high-tech Promethean Board and showed me all of the local libraries my book was in, including the regional library where it is in the Popular Section and can not be reserved or renewed. The website also showed me all the libraries the book was checked out of, the ones that the book was in transit to another local library, and the libraries where my book was on the shelf. I had no idea my book was even in the library, so I think we all learned something that day.

Next year, I am trying to assistant teach an enrichment cluster where the kids can work on a book, do some fundraising, and then self publish it through one of the self-publishing companies. I think if I had seen my name in print when I was 8 instead of when I was 40ish, (enough information here), my whole life might have been different.

1 comment:

WS Gager said...

What a great experience Holli! Maybe in a few years, one of those students will become the next Stephen King, Holli Castillo, or Charlain Harris. I really liked how they looked at the library websites. Can't say enough about being nice to librarians!
W.S. Gager