For years, I'd heard about World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), but yesterday was the first time I fully participated. My takeaway? I can't recommend it highly enough!
Just like traditional, in-person school visits, we authors and illustrators connect with students through our books. With WRAD, the magic of the internet brings us into classrooms across the country that we otherwise might never get the chance to visit.
Yesterday, I spoke with a range of students from kindergarten through 2nd grade, from West Salem, Wisconsin to Roswell, Georgia. They asked all kinds of great questions about my books and what it's like to work in children's literature. They also got a peek at my work space, and illustration process.
For sure, I was a little nervous going in. Last week as a primer, teacher/librarian/blogger/all-around great guy, Matthew Winner suggested I try a Skype visit with his classroom. It was so much fun, especially with a seasoned professional like Matthew, I couldn't wait for WRAD.
A few months ago, I signed up for WRAD through author Kate Messner's blog. Shortly thereafter, teachers from all over were writing to set up appointments for February 16th. My dance card quickly filled up, so I did have to turn away a few requests. Hopefully, I'll be able to connect with those classrooms next year.
The teachers, librarians and I came up with a basic game plan four our sessions, discussing via email the books on which we would focus, and I prepared a few props to show how I make my artwork. Since it was often up to me, and because of the various age groups and opportunities for audience participation, I chose to read A Big Surprise for Little Card and The Wrong Side of the Bed for this year's WRAD.
By the end of the day I was exhausted, but all in all it was an amazing experience. I'm very grateful to all the students, teachers, and librarians who made my first World Read Aloud Day most rewarding. Let's do it again next year!