In 2016, I began reading my books to school children, hoping to impart the importance of being kind to animals, as well as simply making them smile and giggle! I began this journey after meeting a school media specialist at one of my pet supply store sessions. She contacted me the next day to arrange for me to be guest author at her school! I was thrilled! Here are the wonderful experiences I have had so far:
In 2020: You know what an unusual year 2020 has been! With schools closed due to the pandemic, there were no school visits for me. But out of adversity comes many good things! Thank goodness for Zoom! With much gratitude to the MagicBeans Bookstore — an on-line bookstore that supports independent children’s book authors — I was invited to have a Zoom session with first graders who (currently virtually) attend the Fenton Primary Center in Pacoima, California, near Los Angeles. What a fun time we had! The adorable kids picked out my Lucy the Amazing Wonder Dog book to be read to them. They loved it! I even showed them photos of the real Lucy. They were so sweet, and asked good questions. And their teachers were equally delightful! One of them had just adopted rescue dogs! This school was in the midst of their Kindness Campaign and also supports a local animal rescue, so it was a perfect match!
- White Oak School in Parkville, Maryland, where the theme of the night was… DOGS! The kids had hot dogs for dinner, made stick puppets of all my characters from my book to hold up when I mentioned each character, listened to me read my story, and then read to some dogs who were visiting from Pets on Wheels. (Not sure who was happier–the kids or the dogs!)
- Seneca Academy in Darnestown, Maryland, where I read to kids from pre-k to 5th grade. Afterwards, the older kids and I had a fabulous question and answer session about the process of creative writing. This International Baccalaureate School integrates philanthropy and inquiry-based education into its curriculum. What a treat to have an intellectual conversation with kids that age!
- Patterson Park Public Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland, where I read to four classes of kindergartners. We spent time talking about their own experiences with dogs, the importance of kindness to animals, and how to safely approach a dog that they may not know. The kids already knew a lot about animals! Added treat for me: I got a glimpse of another guest speaker at the school that day– The Mayor of Baltimore!
- Head Start, Dasher Green (Columbia, MD) and Ellicott City, MD, where I read to classes of 3-5 year olds when serving as a substitute teacher. My longer stories can be a challenge with such cute and tiny learners, so I learned to paraphrase and tell the stories while showing the pictures. Always fun!
- Stevens Forest Elementary School, Columbia, MD, where I read two of my books to kids from Pre-K through second grade. We had a lot of fun! This was Lucy the Amazing Wonder Dog’s debut, and it was very well received! I learned that small kids don’t always know what “ordinary” means, but it was a good way to add to their vocabulary. We talked about using our imagination, the process of creating books, and the kids identified fiction and non-fiction in my stories–that was a first! They enjoyed talking about their own pets, and we even talked about wolves!
- Hollifield Station Elementary School, Ellicott City, MD, where I read my stories to 6 groups of tiny pre-school cuties. They were such good listeners! We talked about animals, looked at a picture of a brand-new baby giraffe born at the Baltimore Zoo, and discussed using our imagination, just like the star of Lucy the Amazing Wonder Dog. The awesome teachers arranged for Pets on Wheels to come, and even some of the kids who were afraid at first came to pet the dogs and cats, and learned about kindness to animals. They also had snacks that looked like dogs! I am always amazed by the teachers’ creativity! I had the honor of returning in 2018 to read Sugar Goes to the Dentist and Mason the Ambassadog to a new group of cutie pies!
- Salem Avenue Elementary School, Hagarstown, MD–It was a pleasure to read Mason the Ambassadog to over 100 (!) polite, engaged, and totally attentive 4th graders! We had a great question-and-answer session about dogs; Mason and his friends; kindness to animals; the process of writing, proofreading, editing, and publishing; and why people become authors.
- Bryant Woods Elementary School, Columbia, MD–What fun spending time with the 4th graders for Career Day! The kids had some great questions about dogs, how I got started writing children’s books, the process of writing and editing books, and what it is like to be an author. What a smart group! Added benefit and nice surprise–a family friend was one of the teachers!
Each experience has been wonderful in its own way! I look forward to continuing this marvelous journey!