Here we are on the fourth Tuesday of the month so it’s my turn to add my concluding thoughts to this WRITERS AT WORK series: Loving Libraries. Thanks to Sandy Asher for her contribution last week. Please don’t forget that we have one remaining Tuesday and we want to include as many of your own stories as we can in the final post. If you plan to get in touch, now would be a good time.
WRITERS AT WORK
November 22, 2016
Part 4: David
Sandy, I love your celebration of libraries event and its potential to be duplicated and spun off in other towns and cities. You’re a shining example of how authors and libraries are a perfect fit. I hope your idea catches on and is picked up by authors and illustrators elsewhere!
In this segment I want to touch on the mutual benefit of presentations and programs that bring kids to the library. Libraries already have all sorts of excellent programs on their regular menus to do just that, but adding an author to the mix can be fun for everyone concerned. These days I take advantage of our district’s beautiful facilities every chance I get. The meeting rooms are available for speakers so when a new book, NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T, came out earlier this year I chose to introduce it first with a program at The Library Center on South Campbell here in Springfield.
Kathleen O’Dell, the district’s Community Relations Director, worked with me at each step of the planning. We contacted Melinda Arnold, then Public Relations/Marketing Director for Dickerson Park Zoo and arranged to have several animals represented in my book to be brought to the library. We contacted Donna Spurlock, Director of Marketing at Charlesbridge Publishing and asked for black and white pictures from the book that the young set could use for coloring. Donna contacted the artist Giles Laroche and asked him to take some of his glorious full color paintings and render them in black and white outline for my event – no easy matter. We sent copies of poems to neighboring schools with a challenge for students to write poems of their own. We encouraged students to be prepared to read poems aloud with me. The library set up panels to display the kids’ poems and coloring sheets for a week after the event. We featured a musical group that plays arrangements of my poems. The newspaper published a notice about the event. Barnes & Noble provided books for those who wanted to purchase copies. The evening was publicized in the library’s Bookends program of coming events. I must say a fine time was had by all.
I’ve done a number of programs like that over the years. In one variation, students bring poems and are prepared to perform them individually or in groups. Sometimes the fun is having them stand beside me and read with me. We’ve invited singers to perform and actors to read. There are many ways to celebrate books and libraries and kids and their families. When librarians and authors put their heads together and combine their resources, the result can produce memorable events.
We have talked about school libraries and the vital role they also play in the lives of children. In homes where there are no books or few and getting to a public library is a challenge, the school library may provide a child’s only chance to hold a book. Many districts across the country recognize the value of bringing authors to their auditoriums and libraries to inspire students to read more as well as to write. But last year I sat in a school library and didn’t have to say one word. I was there as a guest. The entertainment was presented by student actors at Missouri State University, coached by actor/teacher Michael Frizell, as part of a program that traveled from school to school (eighteen of them) throughout the year to perform readings. They had selected poems and stories from my work to feature so I got to lean back and hear my words brought to animated life by a group of talented and energetic actors. Michael and a group of his peer equity actors performed my work at two of our public libraries too.
So, Sandy, do I love libraries? Oh, I do!