Last Wednesday, after months of planning and grant-writing, I was thrilled to host author Candace Fleming present at my school. This just so happened to coincide with World Read-Aloud Day.
Though thrilled isn’t exactly the right word to describe my demeanor. I was like a kid in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: ecstatic, giddy, overjoyed! I love – LOVE – Candy’s books, as they are some of my all-time favorite stories to read-aloud. Add in her amazing non-fiction and chapter books, and I just knew that this was one author visit that would be amazing.
This is me introducing Candy to the K/1st students. I wasn’t kidding about being ecstatic, giddy, and overjoyed. 🙂
Candace’s visit was beyond my wildest expectations! She is a storyteller at heart, able to keep the attention of every student (and teacher and parent) in the room. All schools have squirrely children, but you wouldn’t have known they existed during Candy’s presentations. Her engaging, warm manner and funny, interactive stories kept the entire audience listening and focused.
She presented for 3 groups at my school: K/1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th. All three presentations were unique, but with a similar theme. Her message of using your eyes and ears to gather story seeds – and sharing stories from her life (that became books, naturally) – was spot-on. By sharing drafts of her writing, she modeled to the students that writers don’t just write, they rewrite over and over (and over and over) again. She shared these lessons using humor, making the visit memorable for all in the room.
I loved how she wove her presentation around books the students knew. Watching their faces light up as they realized Candy was sharing how story seeds from a visit to the park ended up becoming Clever Jack Takes the Cake was magical. Observing my 4th / 5th students actively engage to create a creative story using Candy’s C-L-A-P-S method was memorable. And watching their thoughts on Candy’s visit the next day on our Flipgrid was the icing on the cake: they loved her visit just as much as I did.
Thank you, Candace Fleming, for your trek out to the Pacific Northwest. I hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for me and my students. We love you just as much as we love your stories!