I love to read aloud to my students. It’s one of my favorite moments in class each day. I look forward to it, and I do it EVERY day. No exceptions. Just before Christmas, I read Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner to my students. We had a blast reading it together. My students laughed together every day we read, and they would scream “NOOOOO” when it was time to move on to their next class. They even marched down the halls between classes pretending to be Greeg the robot. I have never had that much fun reading a book in class. So when the chance to talk with the author Jarrett Lerner came up, I jumped on it.
It took a while to iron out the time and date, but honestly, that is a good thing. If Jarrett is busy it means he is either working on another great book, or he is connecting with students somewhere. He’ss a champion of children’s literature and his time is in high demand. I think it’s very important for my students to get a chance to talk to authors of books they enjoy. This opportunity shows students that authors are people just like us. They have lives, hobbies, interests, and they mess up just like the rest of us. When my students experience this for themselves it inspires them and helps them believe that they can tell their stories too.
Jarrett started our Skype by telling the students a little about himself and then explained his writing process. He called himself a tinkerer and explained to the kids exactly what that means. He even “Tinkered” with a few items from his junk drawer and built a contraption for them. This was an impressive trick and the students ate it up. His characters are also tinkerers. The Enginerds love tinkering and building, so this made a great connection with the class. Once that connection was made, Jarrett used it to boost the kids’ confidence. He continually encouraged their writing, had faith in their ability to put ideas on a page and answered all of their questions with a smile. Some answers he had to keep to himself to avoid spoiling future books. They were ecstatic to learn that there will be a book 2.
Our Skype ended with Jarrett recommending 2 books to us. He picked “Lou Lou and Pea” and “Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy” because he thought these would be books that I’m not as familiar with. He was right. They will make great additions to my class library, and I already have kids asking about them. New books are a big thing in my class.
This experience was amazing. I can’t thank Jarrett Lerner enough for taking some time out of his day to connect with my students. That tiny block of time has a huge impact on my students’ lives. It’s invaluable to their reading careers and creates memories that will last a lifetime.
You can follow Jarrett on Twitter at @Jarrett_Lerner He is also involved with mgbookvillage.org which is a great place to go for children’s literature.