School Visit!

Posted March 04, 2013


On Friday, I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the Young Author’s Conference at Zilker Elementary School. I felt so welcome!



For my presentation, we discussed why the first line of a book is important. Then, we analyzed the first lines of various popular books (like A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Holes, etc).


We make a list of the qualities we think the “Good” first lines have, as opposed to the qualities that “Bad” first lines have. This was my favorite list of the day, mostly because of the illustrations and creative spelling :-) After we made the list, we broke into groups and got busy writing our own first lines. Here are a few pics of the fabulous fifth graders in action! They took the exercise quite seriously. They must have known that there was chocolate on the line for the winner . . .








And here I am with the all of the kids from my first session of the day! I was so impressed by what they had to say! They were so sharp and opinionated, and they are all so incredibly well-read! They sound exactly like my friends and me when we discuss books. EXAMPLE:


“Mrs Oakes? Do you recommend that I read

The Heroes of Olympus books? I keep hearing good things,

but I’m just not sure I’m up for another series right now . . .”

<– ACTUAL quote from a fifth grader!

Every time I visit a school, my belief in the power of Kid Lit is reaffirmed. Kids don’t just read books – they live and breath them. I know, because I did the same thing. Talking to these fifth graders was like talking to my fifth-grade self. Sometimes I think that my decision to write Kid Lit is based in part on a desire to get back to that place, where fictional characters were nearly as real as the kids sitting beside me in class (more real, in some ways). It is a great honor and a great responsibility to write for young people. And talking to these fifth graders last Friday was a reminder to me that I have the coolest job in the world.



I had a fabulous times with all of the kids, including the two cutie-patooties in the picture above. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Mrs. Thompson, for inviting me to her class, and to Kari Anne Holt, for bringing me to Mrs. Thompson’s attention. I was delighted to be a part of the Young Author’s Conference, and I sincerely hope the kids had as much fun as I did!

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