Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wayne Avenue School Tells Stories

For the past two days I've been hanging out with teachers at Wayne Avenue School in Dunn, North Carolina. That's not the school to the left, it's the view outside my hotel window. I came to Wayne Avenue to attend a tea party and share some thoughts about personal narrative writing with young children. I spent one day working with 5th-grade teachers and the next with the 4th-grade team. This is some of the most rewarding work I do -- I learn as much as I share.

We mined our lives in search of stories -- personal narratives. We used children's literature to help us. I hope teachers will go back to their classrooms inspired -- we surely laughed a lot and worked hard. I know these good teachers will inspire their students to discover and write their stories as well.

We won't name names, but for two days we heard childhood stories about making change in the collection plate at church (you know who you are), forgetting the day of the party and bringing an old toy (in a paper bag, no less) for the Christmas gift exchange, being scared to death of chickens in the back yard, meeting a preemie baby sister for the first time, listening to the sermon that never should have been preached, watching Grandma scarf the prized Goldfish -- surprise! - with the smiley face, and many, many more personal stories -- what storytellers! What writers!

This is the 5th-grade team with moi. Librarian Karen Tutt is in the black-and-white top -- she worked hard to make sure our staff development days flowed smoothly. And she makes great Earl Gray tea.

The highlight at the end of the day was being invited to 4th-grade teacher Lynn Boyle's classroom to read chapter three of EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS to her students. What a pleasure to see rapt faces waiting for the next chapter in a book that Lynn started reading with students this first week of school -- a book I wrote. Oh, my.

Happy sigh.

I'm in the airport now in Raleigh, NC, with flight delays -- bad weather in Atlanta. I'm thrilled it's raining there. We've had hundred-degree days with no rain for over a month. I'll happily (almost) wait in the airport while the storms clear. Thank you to everyone at Wayne Avenue for two wonderful days of sharing stories and writing together.

I'm laying low for the Labor Day holiday. The All-Stars book tour shifts into second gear next week when I'm off to Happy Bookseller in Columbia, SC on Thursday, September 6. (See complete schedule to the left.) Andy and Carrie -- here I come! Happy weekend, all! Don't labor too hard.