How it Feels to Read to Kids



  1. A little girl raises her hand, and I’m hoping it’s going to be a question, but the kids have gotten off-track and started telling their own stories. Just before this girl, a boy told me the next Smelly Davis book should include an alligator in a swimming pool, and I’m not inclined to disagree with him. But this little girl is raising her hand so earnestly I point to her. “One time,” she says, and all the teachers react as one does when one realizes this is going to be a long-winded rabbit trail, “I was very, very, very, very,” (my eyebrows were slowly climbing, because when I personally use this many “verys”, it’s not going to be a short exposition), “VERY ‘draggled,” and I didn’t hear the rest of the story, because my day was absolutely made. She’d used the vocabulary word I’d just defined, “bedraggled,” in a sentence.

  2. A fifth grader asked me how to deal with writer’s block, and it’s not like I can tell her about the times I’ve rested my head against the cool surface of a school desk and stared at my shoes, wondering why I’m up at such a horribly late hour wasting my time writing something that will never matter; to her, because of how I’m being presented, everything I’ve written is on another tier than whatever story she is keeping in the closet. “Write lots of different types of stories, all at once,” I tell her, because that’s the only thing I’ve figured out. “Try writing the chapter as a poem. Address it from every angle.”

  3. I love when it’s time for questions, because the kids ask me how I made the book, and I have to explain Adobe InDesign to a third grader when I, an almost-graduated college student who has been editor-in-chief of too many publications to still be uncertain about InDesign, am definitely still uncertain about InDesign.

  4. The teachers laugh at the lawyer jokes, but one kid raised her hand when I asked if they learned any new words and called out, “What’s a zookeeper?” so I feel like maybe further analysis of what a reading level can comprehend is necessary. I thought the green uniforms and general presence of safari animals would make the connection, but I suppose that is an assumption.

  5. “Chartreuse,” the color, not the French liqueur (for which the color is named), has a long history of being misinterpreted as maroon. It’s not; it’s lime green. Some variation of the Mandela effect is afoot here, to the point that teachers were asking and I was concerned I’d misidentified the color in the book. From what I can find on Wikipedia, the culprit could potentially be a Crayola crayon misprinted in the seventies.

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