Last week in the comments section to a post I had shared on Facebook about Feeling Blessed by a Bouquet, a kind young mom left a thoughtful comment, which blessed my day in a extra-special way.
Here are her words, shared with her permission:
Laura,not related to this, but I just wanted to tell you how much joy your book “Love is kind” brought into my daughter’s life. Last year you came into her Kindergarten classroom for the reading and we purchased an autographed copy that day. It has become her favorite book! I cannot tell you how many times she re-read it during the lockdown and then during the months of remote learning. She really connected with it and it gave her comfort during these difficult months. Thank you!”
It’s almost like this mom was reading my mind because her message to me about the impact one of my books has had on her daughter was just what this heart needed. In fact, I was so moved, that I responded to her Facebook comment with this:
Thank you for telling me this. You made my month! This past year has been so difficult – and especially for the kids. I’m glad to know the book provided comfort. That, I know, would make Little Owl very happy!
And then after some more thought, the next day I added this:
I’m still so moved by your sharing this. May I have your permission to quote your kind words in post about one never knows the impact ones words/book can have and an encouragement to keep writing and speaking from the heart…I was feeling a bit in a writing slump and your comment really, as I said, made my month!
Her answer: “Of course!”
And I so share these words today as both a reminder and an encouragement for me and for you to keep writing – or developing whatever special talents you’ve been gifted – with the knowledge that, just as surely as Little Owl helped one little girl face a difficult time in her life, your story or gift will surely also impact others in ways that, most often, we will never know.
A couple of weeks ago I spent two delightful class periods visiting the first grade Spanish classes at Hillside Avenue School in Cranford, NJ. I popped in virtually, but the classes met in person and what fun it was to be together in this special way.
First, with the help of Pequeño Búho (that’s Little Owl in Spanish), I introduced the Spanish edition of LOVE IS KIND: EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO and we compared the cover to the English.
Next, I read LOVE IS KIND in English but with lots of Spanish phrases infused including Pequeño Búho (Little Owl), Abuelita (Grammy), Conejo (Rabbit) and, of course, una caja de chocolates en forma de corazón (a heart-shaped box of chocolates)!
After reading in English with oodles of Spanish phrases highlighted, I shared my screen so we could play a game show with Pequeño Búho as host. For the game show the children answered questions about the Spanish/English words we learned. The fun included sharing spreads from both editions (and the French edition too) and I challenged them to see if they could spot the differences between spreads of the English and Spanish. I also introduced the concept of translator and that that’s a job they could have one day.
We ended our special time together with an enthusiastic Q&A. What a wonderful end-of-year treat for students and teacher… and author alike! And afterwards, to my utter delight, I received a special delivery from the first graders – delightfully illustrated thank you notes of Little Owl and his friends .
Each and every one is a treasure and I now present to you a sampling. Enjoy!
NOTE: If you’d like me to come and visit YOUR school or homeschool co-op with this or another program, please reach out to me using the contact tab above and I can give you all the details.
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!
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.
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
For information on fees and scheduling, or any other questions you might have, contact me.
‘Tis the season for… CHRISTMAS STORY TIME WITH THE AUTHOR!!!! One of my favorite parts of Christmas is making GOODNIGHT, MANGER author visits at local preschools and churches, but with this pandemic and all, I’m missing my usual busy line-up! That has given me a wonderful idea.
From now through Christmas, I am offering free 15-minute GOODNIGHT, MANGER 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 via the contact tab in the About section.
For each FREE 15-minute GOODNIGHT, MANGER visit I will:
I introduce the story with the help of Rooster, my puppet.
I engage the children in an interactive reading.
Ponder together who the real give of Christmas is — Jesus!
REQUEST: The visit is free, but I respectfully request that you purchase a copy the book for your class 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 Christmas joy in this special way.
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.
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.
I’m excited to share that a lovely little interaction on Twitter with a first grade teacher who shared how she had just read LOVE IS KIND to her students and tagged me – has resulted in an end of the year virtual school visit with the first graders at her school! I sometimes get discouraged that all this social media socializing doesn’t seem to make a difference – but here’s a positive example of it working in a special way to make a very memorable experience for some first graders (and their parents and teachers) during these stressful times. I will let you know how it goes!
What makes this special visit extra special is that one of the very reasons I wrote LOVE IS KIND was to show in fun story form what love and kindness in action could look like. Now, in celebration of this teacher and her class, I thought it would be fun to share a few book-inspired tips to foster kindness in our kids. My hope is that they will inspire you and your little ones to follow in Little Owl’s footsteps and spread love and kindness near and far.
Tip #1: Be kind yourself. As Grammy from LOVE IS KIND would most certainly remind us, our little owls, I mean kids, are watching our every move. They are learning from us, seeing if our words match our actions. If we want them extend love and kindness to others, we must first be intentional about being kind ourselves in ways big and small.
Tip #2: Brainstorm ways to be kind. Little Owl was kind and loving every step of the way on his quest to get Grammy those chocolates, but he didn’t realize it until Grammy pointed it out. Sometimes reminders are helpful, so after reading the story, spend a few minutes brainstorming with your children some ways we can be kind to others. Consider having an older child write down your family’s ideas, then put them on the fridge as a visible daily reminder.
Tip #3: Make “good manners” a habit. Did you notice how polite Little Owl was throughout the story? And how good manners came so naturally to him? He said things like, “Have a good day!”, “Congratulations!” and “That’s nice.” I suspect Little Owl’s mama and papa and teacher were hard at work on a daily basis instilling those simple niceties. As parents (and grandparents) and caregivers, we can do the same with our kids so that when they are out and about those kind and friendly interactions are second nature.
Tip #4: Wear “kindness glasses.” I like to wrap up author visits by challenging the kids to be kind to those around them just like Little Owl. To help them remember this, I have them first hold their hands together so that thumbs and fingers touch to form a heart shape. I explain that these are their kindness glasses and I ask them to look through them every morning when they wake up and we all try it, which generates giggles all around. Then, while looking at them through my heart-shaped glasses, I challenge them to find at least one opportunity before the sun sets to extend kindness to another in an unexpected way. The silliness is part of the magic and it sets the tone for a good day. (Note: This tip pairs nicely with tip #2)
Tip #5: Catch each other being kind! Grammy caught Little Owl completely by surprise when she pointed out that he’d shown love and kindness along the way to Grammy’s house. And what was Little Owl’s reaction? He was thrilled! He realized HE was the gift and that his kindnesses towards others were better than any store-bought gift. Likewise, your children will be delighted when you notice their kind deeds. And this, I am certain, will spur them on to more and more and more! And that should make every parent’s heart sing. It sure makes mine!
Blessings to you and your kids as you lovingly instill in them hearts for spreading love and kindness.
Note: A version of this post previously appeared on Jean Matthew Hall’s delightful blog. Please also enjoy her review of my book GOODNIGHT, MANGER, along with her rich archive of posts about both the writing and reading of picture books. And while you are there, be sure to check out her Bountiful Blessings Picture Book Series.Thank you, Jean!
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!
As a former teacher and ever champion of reading and writing, I love visiting schools. I am currently in the process of setting up my 2018 – 2019 school visit calendar. My picture book visits are perfect for students, PreK thru Grade 2.
During a visit I typically do any or all of the following:
Read the story 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 an engaging journey that shows how an idea goes from inspiration to publication (and get them excited about their own writing too!).
Share interesting “artifacts” including early drafts & sketches, proofs, folded galleys & more.
Participate in a Q&A session.
Provide post-visit writing prompts so they can write their own illustrated stories!
Understanding that priorities differ, I will happily work with you to tailor the visit to your needs.
I prefer classroom presentations (30 – 40 minutes each) to whole school assemblies so students can better interact with the author, ask questions, and see the artifacts.Classes may be combined.
Options: 1/2 day (from start of day until lunch) or full day. I am also available for Skype visits.
For information regarding fees, visit details, book orders etc., please contact me via the “contact” tab in the blog header.