TWELVE TIPS for READING ALOUD to 3 – 7 YEAR OLDS at BOOK EVENTS

Reading to the young is fun, but can be challenging if you are new to it.  With that in mind, here are twelve tips for capturing and keeping the attention and interest of preschool – K-2 audiences at picture book read-aloud events. (Perfect for authors or anyone reading aloud to this age range.)

BEFORE THE STORY:

  1. Have the children gather around you – close up.
  2. Begin with a focusing activity, such as a song or clapping response game (or a fun book-themed gameshow style quiz as I do with LITTLE EWE).
  3. Briefly tell a little bit about who you are, your inspiration for story etc. in a playful, kid-friendly way.  (Optional:  Bring a long a couple of props to help with this.  I bring puppets and, perhaps a hat or other book-themed apparel, such as my most recent bunny hat that I wore whilst reading BUNNY FINDS EASTER!)

DURING THE STORY:

4. Be animated and excited. Read with expression.

5.  Make eye contact. Remember, you aren’t just reading, you are interacting with your readers.

6.  Before turning each page, be sure to hold the book up and pan it around the room slowly so everyone has a chance to enjoy the illustration.

7. Involve the children in the storytelling. (By using body motions and sounds, for example.)

8. Pause occasionally to point out something from the illustrations that they might not notice, but which adds to the story.

9. As you read, occasionally ask questions like “What do you think will happen next?  Would you want to be…?”  (But don’t do #8 and #9 so much that you break the flow of the story.)

AFTER THE STORY:

10. Share a fun post-reading activity such as a simple craft or song.

11. Depending on age and attentiveness of group, have a brief Q&A session.

12. Thank the children for being such a great audience and thank their parents or guardians for bringing them to the event.  Remember also to thank the event host.

BUNNY FINDS EASTER: Schedule a FREE Author Visit!

Hip-HOP-Hooray!  BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz) releases February 1, 2022. Told in bouncy rhyme, BUNNY FINDS EASTER is about a little rabbit on a quest to find out what Easter is all about. Is it about chocolate eggs and jelly beans or might it just be about a little bit more?  Light and fun, I think it’s the perfect introduction for littlest ones that Easter is about Jesus – he is the gift of Easter.

In celebration of the book’s release, I have a special offer!

From now through April 30th, 2022, I am offering free 20-minute BUNNY FINDS EASTER author visits to the TEN first groups who reach out to me via the contact tab. This special visit is ideal for preschools, church ministries, homeschool coops etc. and can be in–person or VIRTUAL.

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

For each FREE 20-minute BUNNY FINDS EASTER visit I will:

  1. Introduce the story with the help of Bunny and an Easter basket full of the items we will encounter in the story including colorful eggs, lilies, Easter candies and more.
  1. Engage the children in an interactive reading.
  1. Review the message of the story by re-examining the items in our basket to see how each reminds us of Easter and God’s love. 

REQUEST:  

The visit is free, but I respectfully request that you purchase a copy the book for your class/church library and that you offer families the opportunity to purchase copies as well. I do not sell my own books, but they are available through the major online vendors as well as your favorite local indie book stores. To help spread word to families, I can provide an order form for schools/groups to collect and order as a group from the vendor of your choosing. Be sure keep a list of first names for book inscriptions and, as a thank you, I will provide a signed and personalized book plate for each book purchased!

I look forward to spreading Easter joy in this special way.  

Counting through the Week with LITTLE EWE (and Little Owl too!)

May is in full bloom here in New Jersey and Little Ewe and I (and Little Owl too, as you will see below) have been joyfully counting our way through the week with FIVE wonderful book sharing opportunities! Here’s a roundup of the meadows we visited this week. Thank you for having us!

Meadow #1: VIRTUAL AUTHOR VISIT to Minnesota! Little Ewe and I kicked off the week with a kindergarten author visit at Gethsemane Lutheran Church and School. After a very interactive and enthusiastic reading, each and every kindergartner asked a question. They also wanted me to let illustrator Tommy Doyle know how much they loved his drawings of sheep. I kindly passed the message on, of course, much to his delight. Thank you for having us!

Meadow #2: FRONT STEP STORY TIME. On Tuesday, Little Ewe and I shared LITTLE EWE with the preschoolers at St. Michael’s School in Cranford. They counted along with Little Ewe each step of the way and made wonderful animal sounds – including hooting owls and, of course, sheep! We all enjoyed being outside on such a sunny spring morning. Hooray for front steps and stories!

Meadow #3: VIRTUAL LOVE IS KIND VISIT to Michigan Little Ewe made a brief appearance, but this visit with the k – 8th graders at South Olive Christian School was Little Owl’s chance to shine as I used LOVE IS KIND to show the kids how a book goes from inspiration to publication. Something extra special about this visit is that I actually know one of the teachers – we taught together way back in early 90s when we both just starting our teaching careers. How wonderful it was to reunite via zoom!

Meadow #4: LITTLE EWE BLOG INTERVIEW. This week I am delighted to be hosted by children’s author Mindy Baker in celebration of the release of LITTLE EWE (Beaming Books, 2021). What inspired me to write LITTLE EWE? What’s my writing process like? Find the answers to these and other fun questions in Mindy’s interview. Oh, and there’s a giveaway for one fresh-off-the-press copy of LITTLE EWE! Thank you, Mindy!

Meadow #5: On Wednesday, was interviewed on Instagram LIVE! by one of our local indie bookstores, The Book House in Millburn NJ. This is part of their Local Love Wednesday’s series where they chat with a local author. We chatted about all my books, and I even got dressed up for the occasion – sort of. Curious? Here’s the link. Enjoy!

SPRINGTIME OFFER: Free LITTLE EWE Visit with the Author!

One of my favorite parts of having a new book out is sharing the story at author visits. And now, with so many preschools, daycares and churches learning via hybrid and/or virtual, I have a special invitation. 

From now through June 30, 2021, I am offering free 15-minute LITTLE EWE author visits to TEN special groups – ideal for preschools, church ministries, homeschool coops and more. These can be in–person or VIRTUAL which means I can visit near or far!

If you are interested, reach out to me here.

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

For each FREE 15-minute LITTLE EWE visit I will:

  • I introduce the story with the help of Little Ewe, my adorable stuffy companion. 
  • I engage the children in an interactive reading.
  • Ponder together who the real Shepherd is— Jesus! 
  • Close by sharing a follow up game idea they can make on their own to play their own round of “Where is Little Ewe?”  or have a brief Q&A.

BONUS: Here’s an activity pack chock full of follow-up activities to extend the fun after reading the book together.

REQUEST:  The visit is free, but I respectfully request that you purchase a copy the book for your class/church library and let families know that they can purchase copies as well. I do not sell my own books, but they are available through the major online vendors as well as your favorite local indie book stores. To help spread word to families, I can provide an order form for schools/groups to collect and order as a group from the vendor of your choosing. Or you can simply let families know that they can purchase books on their own by providing a link to the local or online vendor of your choice. Either way, be sure keep a list of first names for book inscriptions and, as a thank you, I will provide a signed and personalized book plate for each book purchased!

I look forward to spreading Springtime joy in this special way. 

 

NOW BOOKING: Author Visits and Speaking Engagements

As part of getting reading for the release of LITTLE EWE next month, I’ve been spiffing up my blog. Part of that has included adding a new tab devoted to author visits and speaking engagements. You can access the tab using the menu option (if you are on your phone) or by simply looking at the tabs above if you are on your computer or laptop. I’m also sharing the information in today’s blog post. Looking forward to set up some great events in 2021! Here’s the info:

I would be delighted to visit your preschool, daycare, elementary school, community organization, church, MOPS or women’s group for a story time, author talk, workshop, or other creative program.

SCHOOL VISITS: For school/library visits, I can do any/all of the following (or something different that we work out together):

  • Read the story of your choice, using puppets to help with the story telling.
  • Celebrate the special ability of picture books to tell a story using both pictures and words! Demonstrate that neither is complete without the other.
  • Take the children on the engaging journey a book takes from inspiration to publication (and get them excited about their own writing too!)
  • Share interesting “artifacts” related to the book including early drafts and sketches, proofs, folded galleys and more.
  • Participate in a Q&A session 

AUTHOR TALKS: I love speaking with church groups, MOPS groups, community groups etc. Topics I’ve spoken on include (but are not limited to):

  • The power of story to connect us with others in meaningful ways
  • Behind the scenes: one author’s journey into books
  • The Gift: an inspirational message and testimony plus tips for sparking meaningful faith conversations with our children

WRITING TALKS:  I also love connecting with children’s book writers. My topics include:

  • Writing in rhyme
  • Making the most of the picture book format
  • Using feedback to improve your craft
  • Examining and employing different story structures in picture books
  • Exploring the ins and outs of the submission process 
  • and more…

For information on fees and scheduling, or any other questions you might have, contact me.

Happy Monday, all!

BACK TO SCHOOL OFFER: Celebrate KINDNESS with a FREE Author Visit!

LOVE and KINDNESS. They are more than just words. They are life-affirming actions that start in the heart. When extended to others, they spread joy and sweet affirmation that we each matter and are loved. They can make all the difference in a person’s day… and life. They are gifts both to be given and received. 

Since my kindness-themed picture books LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz) and DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling) made their debuts in 2018, I have been visiting local schools and libraries in-person sharing a message of kindness. 

Now, with so many classes learning via hybrid and/or virtual, I have a special invitation.  Between now and November 13th, which is World Kindness Day, I am offering a FREE 20-minute KINDNESS-THEMED author visit to TEN preschool and early elementary teachers.  If you are interested, reach out to me via the contact tab in the About section.

IMPORTANT DETAILS

For each FREE 20-minute visit I will:

  • Briefly introduce myself and describe what it means to be an author. I will also share the inspiration behind the book I will be sharing.
  • Read either LOVE IS KIND or DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE with a kindness take-away challenge for each.
  • Use puppets to aid in the storytelling.
  • Have a brief Q&A.

OPTIONAL: If you are interested in a longer virtual visit that includes a presentation of the journey a picture book takes from spark to publication, using early sketches, drafts and more, I also offer longer virtual visits that are fee-based. If a fuller visit interests you, please let me know that. My fees are reasonable and we will make the visit work to fit your budget.

Either way, I respectfully request that you or your school purchase a copy the book you select for your class library. I also request that book orders be made available to families so they can order books from the vendor of their/your choice.  I do not sell my books, but they are readily available through your favorite bookseller. I will provide a signed personally inscribed book plate for each book purchased. 

I look forward to spreading kindness in this special way this fall!  

This offer is good through November 13, 2020. Spots will fill quickly, so reach out to me soon via my contact tab in the About section. 

Happy Fall!

SURPRISE MAIL: A Thank You Note from Australia (and a FREE SKYPE Invitation for YOU!)

There’s nothing quite as special as getting a surprise package in the mail – especially one that’s postmarked Australia! I knew immediately who the special parcel was from – lovely group of third grade girls and their teacher who were interested in learning the ins-and-outs of writing! Their teacher, Ms. Barry, had reached out to me in June to see if we could Skype. As it turned out, we were too far from each other to get a reliable internet connection, so instead I sent them a short video introduction with an invitation to ask me questions via email. They took me up on my invitation to ask questions and I answered each and every one. You can see my post about that here.

What fun it was, then, to receive this lovely thank you note from the girls, along with two darling koala bear stuffies. Their kind words brought me such joy that I thought you might enjoy seeing the note, too, along with my video thank you to them.

My video “thank you” note to them:

Now, in celebration of spreading my love of reading and writing with the next generation, HERE’S MY INVITATION: This wonderful visit happened because a teacher reached out to me via the contact tab in the banner above. I LOVE connecting in special ways like this. And I’d like to extend the invitation now to teachers near and far. So, in celebration of books and words, I’m offering FIVE free 2O minute Skype sessions with classes and/or homeschool co-ops. We can tailor the visit to your needs, but typically it includes me reading one of my books, talking a wee bit about how I wrote it, followed by a Q & A , which, in my humble opinion is the best part because it allows the children to interact with a real-live author! If this interests you, please reach out by using the contact tab (in the “about” section) and we’ll get something on the calendar!

Happy reading and writing, all! Laura

SCHOOL VISIT: Thank you, Hillside Avenue School!

I spent a delightful couple of hours Monday morning visiting with the K-2nd graders at Hillside Avenue School. After introducing myself and sharing a couple of the sparks (real-life things that happened to my own kids) that inspired the story, I read them LOVE IS KIND, pausing occasionally to reflect on how the text and the illustrations work together to tell the story. I also challenged them to give me a nod when we got to the parts of the story that were inspired by real-life events. (Hint: They had to do with the tooth fairy and a floating five dollar bill! If this intrigues you, you’ll just have to read the story.)

Afterwards, using sketches, galleys and more, I took them on the journey a picture book takes from inspiration to publication. And all along the way, I challenged them to think about how they, too, are writers and illustrators and how the stories we create just keep getting better and better when we take those original sparks and play and play with them through multiple rounds of revision until they sparkle. Finally, we closed with a Q&A where they impressed me with their thoughtful questions.

This event helped kick off the school’s Week of Respect, a national occasion that is celebrated in schools nationwide. And since love and kindness are two thoughtful ways one can show respect, LOVE IS KIND seemed a perfect pick.

Thank you, teachers and students for a great visit. And a special thanks to the school’s very kind librarian for arranging the visit. What a fun way to start the week!

Happy reading and writing to all!

BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL: Free Virtual Author Visit with Laura Sassi!

Back-to-School Time! In celebration of reading and writing and BOOKS, I’m offering TEN free 20-minute Skype visits to classrooms, libraries, or homeschool co-ops!

For each 20 minute FREE Skype visit I will:

Briefly introduce myself and describe what it means to be an author. I will also share the inspiration behind the book I will be sharing.

Read either LOVE IS KIND or DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE.

Use puppets to aid in the storytelling.

Have a brief Q&A.

To set up the Skype visit, please make your request through my contact tab. Be sure to include the following important information:

Age of kids (if preschool) or class grade

Location

Three available days/times

Contact info, including Skype username

I look forward to visiting with you!

SPECIAL TREAT: Inspiring Young Writers… in Australia!

SO SPECIAL! A lovely 3rd grade teacher from Australia reached out to me because her students are writing their own stories and she thought it would be special if they could meet an author and ask questions about writing. We tried to make it “live” but couldn’t get a good connection, so instead I sent them a short video introducing myself and welcoming them to ask me questions via email. On Friday, Ireceived their questions and they are WONDERFUL and I thought you might enjoy reading a few of them. I’m also including a short excerpt from my video chat with them. What a marvelous use of technology and the former teacher in me LOVED sharing my joy of writing with the next adorable generation “down under”!

First, the video clip:

Now a picture from their end along with the sweet thank you notes they penned on the class white board:

Finally, three of their amazing questions, along with my responses. (There were 26 in all.)

How does it feel being an author? (Lauren)

It takes a lot of discipline and you have to have thick skin because it takes a lot of rejections before a story is accepted by a publisher. All that hard work feels good, though. Plus, it’s a chance to see the world through writer’s eyes and that brings me joy.  I love being an author.

 Are any of the characters in your books describe you or a family member? (Ava)

I would say that the characters or, more typically, the events in my stories often describe things that have happened in our family. For example, the scene in LOVE IS KIND where the tooth fairy has forgotten to come was inspired by a very traumatic situation in our house when the tooth fairy forgot to come as well. Don’t worry, though, because in both the story and in real life, it all worked out in the end.

Were you shy about the idea of other people reading your stories and books? (Taleeya)

I was a bit at first – especially when the first reviews of the books came out! Now, though, I treasure the idea of children and their parents enjoying my books at story time. They were a joy to write I hope they bring joy to others who read them.

(And the other 23 questions were just as thoughtful. Well done, girls!)

HAPPY READING AND WRITING, ALL!