10 Days -- The Great Assemblage

Thank you, thank you, for the mail, for the encouragement. I'm here. I just needed a couple of hours to sleep like the dead after a school visit today, at Brookwood Elementary in Snellville, Georgia. Great school. Wonderful students. Stellar teachers.

Students stayed right with me today -- I move quickly and we cover a lot of ground. One intrepid 4th-grade teacher was reading LITTLE BIRD with her class. That class took far more away from assembly than any other in that session -- it adds tremendously to the experience if students and teachers are familiar with my books.

We say this all the time, we authors, and it sounds self-serving, perhaps, but it's not. It's really for YOU that we say it. You are paying us to come and share with your students, and the deepest sharing, the most meaningful connections -- the most long lasting results of this day -- come when students are prepared for that particular author, when they know the characters in that author's books, are familiar with the stories -- their faces shine when they recognize those characters, that storyline, and we laugh with recognition at how they are like us.

Here's a shout-out to the two writing teachers at Brookwood who are using FREEDOM SUMMER with their second graders. I was floored at these kids' faces... they were radiant. I was amazed at how deeply they understood this story, how much they resonated to the theme of justice -- an abstract term if ever there was one... but these seven-year-olds got it. And we were able to talk about Joe and John Henry and friendship in ways that would not have been possible if they were coming cold to the story.

One more thing I want to mention about Brookwood. This is a school where writing workshop takes place every day in every grade -- Every day! Every grade! And it shows. In the fifth grade assembly today, teachers brought their notebooks (I have all fourth and fifth grade students bring notebooks to assembly), and teachers were working, right alongside their students. Marvelous modeling. Excellent. I have learned to use chart paper in assembly now, to model what I want to see as well... a constantly evolving thing, teaching writing within the assembly. And I love it.

I also love my story, and got no further on it today. But you know I was going to say that. I knew I would have four days in this 13 that were not going to be writing days. But tomorrow -- tomorrow I start in fresh and will be the better for having had a break.

So... tomorrow. Until then. For now -- I'm off to pick out a bathtub and some paint. Thanks so much to media specialist Kris Burnett for working with me and putting together such a great day at Brookwood. Thank you, teachers! Thank you, students. Don't forget to tell your stories.


  1. This is your president speaking.

    I began reading "Each Little Bird" to my class yesterday. I told them I was the president of your fan club and that you had had a hard writing day yesterday, including trouble fiding a quiet spot.

    They have all kinds of learning challenges and know what it's like to have a rough day at the office. They offer you the following encouragement:

    "Just try to block out the noise or use earplugs and you'll write a good book. Know it in your heart."
    -Matt, 4th grade

    "Try your best, work hard, your books are awesome and so are the little maps in the books."

    -Kimberly, 5th grade

    "You can go in your room and lock your door." - Daniel, 4th grade

    "Keep moving forward!" Evan, 4th grade

    In other news, I have begun writing the words to The Deborah Wiles Fan Club song. As requested, I am using the word spectacular, which rhymes very nicely with vernacular.

    Another one of your fans will have to compose the tune.

    xs and os from the Chief

  2. Ha! What a post! You must give my thanks to your students. Tell them I will try again tomorrow and hope for a good, quiet space. I have one in mind.

    As for the song.... I can't wait.

    This is your humble servant, signing off.


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