As I think about my Monday morning visit with students at McBride Elementary School I wonder what they will ask me. As anyone who does this sort of thing knows, most questions from young children reflect off-the-top curiosity. Where do you get your ideas? How long does it take to write a book? How many more books are you going to write? Do you write joke books? Do you have any children?
The questions need to be answered, of course, although the trick is to work in more useful information as we go along so that the teacher has more to go on later than the number and ages of my daughter and son.
Now and then, though, I get pleasantly surprised when I receive more original, thoughtful questions that show me the teachers have been working ahead of time with their students and their students have been paying attention. Those are the best visits because they’re not only fun but also provide young writers with specific tips to help strengthen their own efforts.
Here are a few questions I received recently from Susan Hutchens, an outstanding teacher whom many of us know, from students I’ve never met. Susan shared a book of mine, NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T, talked about the author and what goes into writing books, and sent me pages of wonderful questions. For example:
How did you figure out that you should write a nonfiction poem?
What was your preparation for this book?
What other animals did you learn about? Why did you choose to write about these animals?
Can you possibly think about poems that can also help you with learning?
Did you read a lot of books when you wanted to write books?
Have you been to all the places (in the book)?
How can you find that many words describing the animal that rhyme?
These are only a few of many excellent questions. They’re the kind that every visiting author and illustrator hope to get. Some of the questions are assured of going into the book I’m writing with Mary Jo Fresch. Yay for your kids and you, Susan!