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From the Writer’s Desk

Mr. Chick and His Peeps
By Bryan Chick

When I first self-published The Secret Zoo (a long story which you can read a little bit of here), the prospect of school visits terrified me. Kids can be intimidating. They are small and loud and brutally honest. At my first visit to 350 students, in 2007, I knew my risk of fainting was considerable. Everyone tells me that I talk too fast (I argue that they listen too slow), soIamcertainthatallmysentencescameoutsoundinglikethis. I sweated. I balked. I stuttered. I tripped on the cord of my laptop and almost fell. I survived. Barely.

Now, more than 125 schools and 35,000 students later, I LOVE visiting schools. The kids truly inspire me. I’ve never fainted, I don’t sweat enough to mark my T-shirts, and I can now walk backward over my laptop cord without skipping a beat. Istilltalktoofast, but my message reaches kids.

A few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • If your name is Mr. Chick, a sizable number of students will chuckle when your name is announced.
  • Five hundred kids can sit on a gymnasium floor without fidgeting. As soon as one fidgets, five hundred will fidget.
  • If your zipper is down during your talk, it’s likely that a student will raise a hand to let you know about it, thinking that he’s saving you from embarrassment.
  • If you have a large lunch with staff, then rush immediately into an assembly and accidentally burp into your microphone, two hundred third graders will not pretend they didn’t hear it.
  • If you are totally bald, many kids will generously depict you in their drawings as having three to ten hairs.

drawing Greenwillow

  • To avoid awkward bathroom moments with students, it’s best to take the time to locate the toilet the staff uses.
  • If you show up at a school on the same day a professional hockey player does, you will not be the celebrity of the day.
  • If your spouse tags along, he/she might get a chance to feel what it’s like to be a visiting author when asked to sign the book that you’ve written.

signing Greenwillow

  • If you touch a second grader’s heart, she might hug you for a full minute, and for that full minute you’ll forget that there’s anything bad in the world.

If you’re an author who frequents this blog and you’re considering school visits but the idea makes you queasy, I exit with this:

  • I worried the kids and I wouldn’t have any fun.…

Laughing crowd Greenwillow

  • I worried the kids would be too bored for questions….

Raising hands Greenwillow

  • I worried the kids wouldn’t like my books enough to buy them….

boxes Greenwillow

I worried for nothing.

Secrets and ShadowsBryan Chick’s newest book in the Secret Zoo series, Secrets and Shadows, went on sale last month. If you’d like information about Bryan’s school visits, check out his website and click on the “Touring” tab.

3 Comments

  1. Tim Smith says:

    Thanks for a great post, Bryan!

    Any author who reads this + the ‘planning an author visit’ series from our marketing colleagues at the Page Turn will be an author well-prepared for a school visit!

    http://www.thepageturn.com/2010/12/books/planning-an-author-visit/
    http://www.thepageturn.com/2011/01/author-visits-2/planning-an-author-visit-part-ii/

  2. Rita says:

    This is wonderful. You know you’re doing something right when you can get through to kids like that.

  3. lisa ard says:

    Thanks Bryan for a wonderful post. Great pictures (and a reminder to take a camera and friend) and great insights!

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