One of the most fun things a children's book writer can do is meet the audience--the kids who read the books. I've had two very special "meet the audience" days recently.
|Sculpture outside the Meskwaki Settlement School
|Entrance to the Meskwaki Settlement School
I visited with students in grades 3-6. We talked about how writers can construct characters, how we write about the places that are special to us, and how important it is to keep a journal, to write down our ideas, to write down the things we want to remember.
There is history, so much history, in and around this school. The Iowa members of Meskwaki Tribe were removed to Kansas in the 1843. In 1856 the Iowa legislature passed a law "allowing" Meskwakis to stay in Iowa (this language is embarrassing in our time, but it's what the law said). In 1857 the Meskwaki Tribe purchased 80 acres of land in Tama County and re-settled in Iowa. On this settlement is built the school which I visited.
I was privileged to be there and spend time with the students--and hope to go back sometime.
I have done many school visits but not enough that I don't get nervous, hoping that the students and I will make a connection that will have meaning for them, but worrying that all the other things that are going on--school lunch, recess complications, loose teeth--will get in the way. I can't be sure what we've done until I've been there and done the day.
When it's over, though, I am always glad I had the chance for time with students. I am always reminded of what important work we do together when we talk about writing and stories.
And I always come home thinking, "That was good fun!'