I started writing about the adventures of Derek and Sam as a way to create an exciting story to read at bedtime to my boys. As it turned into a book, I learned a lot about the publishing process and have enjoyed getting it into the hands of young readers. It’s been an unexpected bonus for Summer of the Woods to be part of Bettie Weaver Elementary’s WEaver READs program this January.
In their third annual literacy program, and part of the school’s 20th anniversary, all of the school’s families are encouraged to read a chapter aloud together each night. The next morning, a trivia question is read over the loud speaker during announcements to test the kids’ memories, a winner is chosen from each class, and one student is picked to read the next day’s question. It’s fun and a bit surreal to know that every night, families all across town are reading my book together.
At the start of the reading event, I spent the day at the school speaking to all the kids, two or three classes at a time. From the wide-eyed little kindergarteners to the seemingly enormous fifth graders, I talked to them about being an author and the steps to writing a story. I was quite impressed by some of the questions and thoughts about how to plan and develop a story. By the end of the day, I was pretty beat, but it was fun to know that I’d talked with 700 students and their teachers.
While I guess it’s unlikely that anyone would come up to me in public and say that they really didn’t like the book, it’s quite something to have parents and kids alike give me great feedback about their experience reading Summer of the Woods. From the first grader that was pointing to me with their mom from across the room, to the friend of my son who said during a timeout in a basketball game, “So, I’m really enjoying Summer of the Woods!” It’s a lot of fun.
This week I’ll be back at the school for an hour in the wrap up of the reading program. I’ll be going class to class with the school mascot, signing books and handing out pennies that tie into the story. I’m anxious to see in the weeks ahead if my strategically placed teaser page at the end of book one leads all these readers into Mystery on Church Hill. I was pleasantly surprised by how many kids said that they liked historical fiction during my visit. I’m glad that I won’t have to be stressing about spelling words correctly on the white board or making sure that I’m describing adjectives correctly in front of all those teachers! Everyone seemed to be satisfied, however, so I think I passed the test. No matter what the future brings, Weaver Reads has been quite an adventure that I won’t soon forget.