Case example: An author visit to a Nevada elementary school
Here is how I used your amazing book, The Thief and the Beanstalk:
1. I reviewed what a fairy tale was.
2. I read two versions of Jack and the Beanstalk and did a whole group Venn diagram using those.
3. I introduced The Thief and the Beanstalk as a "further tale" and explained we would find connections, mental images, and other literature vocabulary such as similes, metaphors, personification, and themes.
4. I read 1 to 2 chapters a day with the kids at my feet so they would really listen and soak the book in! After one chapter they were hooked! My reluctant readers wanted me to read more. They listened intuitively and made connections. They were excited to hear more, made connections, and predictions.
5. Whenever my kids heard a simile (which was often) they would whisper "simile."
6. Introducing the themes came naturally. I reviewed them daily with the kids and they made more inferences and predictions of how each character fit the themes.
7. The discussion of whether it is ever OK to steal was heated! The kids even discussed it at home with their parents. The timing was perfect because we read the chapter right after Hurricane Katrina and the looting was happening in New Orleans.
8. As soon as I finished the third or fourth chapter, my more fluent readers wanted to know about the other books you have written so I wrote your website down on the homework board so they could view it. They loved the idea of writing you and reading about your up and coming books.
9. Each time you wrote to one of the kids, he/she would read it to the class. That sparked more people to write!
10. When my "Visionaries" found out you were coming last year it was like they won the lottery! They could not believe their "Favorite Author" was coming to see them. You mean so much to them! Three of my former students took the day off from their new school to see you!
11. Once I knew you were coming to Las Vegas, the great planning began! I knew I want to sell a ton of your books and make sure everyone at Ober had the opportunity to buy one, so I prepared my librarian. I am very lucky to have a feisty librarian who is up to my craziness. So, we made signs announcing your planned arrival date and I came into the library during the Scholastic Book Fair and talk about your books to all of the intermediate parents. The books sold like hot cakes.
12. Then more teachers were catching on to the phenomenon, so more kids wanted to buy your books. My librarian, Dianne Utterback, just kept ordering more and more! They continued to sell :)
13. When your arrival date drew closer, I wrote letters to my parents asking them to help put up the beanstalk and to supply the breakfast! They were more than ready! They could not wait to meet you and to help with anything. They wanted to meet the man who made their kids so excited about reading! I also had the kids share with me what your books meant to them. I loved sending you those :)
14. When you arrived, the energy in my classroom was electrifying! It was like reaching the climax in one of your books! When you presented us with The Brave Apprentice and the manuscripts all of our mouths dropped! We have a waiting list for The Brave Apprentice, and I am sharing the manuscripts this week with my class. Then they will remain in the library in a three ring binder for check out.
15. After watching how my students absolutely devoured your book, The Thief and the Beanstalk I decided we had to the character interpretation project! They were overjoyed to do it! There was not one moan or negative comment.
Just remember, you have sparked the creativity in so many kids! You are an inspiration!