Today was one of those wonderfully, perfect days where I was reminded why I write for children.
And why I’m a teaching assistant.
And why those two things fit together perfectly.
A few weeks ago, I posted here about visiting the classroom of an author friend, who’d created a campfire for her students to sit around, as they read Cooper and Packrat. When I gushed about the experience to my reading/writing students and co-teacher Shannon Shanning, they insisted we try it too.
Shannon brought in the hot cocoa and popcorn. I found some leftover graham crackers and chocolate in my cupboard from the campground. And together we scraped up the Fluff, yellow, red and white tissue paper, paper bags (to make logs) and lights to create an indoor campfire read aloud!
Our students actually tried to warm their hands over the flames!
I can’t explain in mere words how rewarding it is to read aloud from the Cooper and Packrat books to my own students. Their reactions; gasps, giggles, questions and shout-outs inspire me constantly.
When Gavin burps the alphabet aloud, and the boys started trying it too, as the girls and I rolled our eyes? Priceless!
I read two whole chapters, just because I love doing it, so! But then we had the students take turns reading as well. I especially enjoy letting them in on the little behind-the-scenes notes; like the bathroom scene from book 2 where the goons take Oscar from Packrat and hold him . . . . well, . . . anyway . . . and how that scene was inspired solely from my editor having asked for Oscar to make an appearance in book 2 – and my wanting to put Oscar in trouble.
Days like today, really warm my heart. And when I’m back at my home desk, alone, fingers poised over the keyboard, wondering if all my ideas have been used up, if I’ll ever find the perfect combination of words to finish a scene, I remember those students. I remember their questions, their praise, their groans from a cliff-hanger-chapter-ending. And I press forward, trusting in myself to find the next exciting scene that’ll make them, and all my readers, gasp out loud, turning the page, looking for more.