Just as the final weeks of school were winding down for elementary kids, I brought Big Mo on a slew of in-school Author Visits for the first time! This was a fantastic opportunity to read the book and discuss not only the heart of the story (and its important message of consumption-run-amok), but also the creative design process with hundreds of Pre-K through Second Graders.
Over two weeks, I stopped into several schools, including my own alma mater, Woodstone Elementary in San Antonio, TX. It's strange how the school library smells the same (*like well-worn books), but the ceilings seem so much lower than I remember!
Not only was this experience rewarding for me, but I also found that the kids were incredibly receptive to the complex topic of design. We began by discussing ideas and inspiration, then learning how to draw Mo, and finally practiced narrative structure with an interactive, short story activity (excerpt below). Many students seemed inspired to go home that day and start writing their own story!
I explained to the groups that with my architectural background, I can't help but think of writing and illustration like an architect would. Just like buildings are synthesized from many parts and players, a book is "built" through a similar process (only with many more elements of PLAY and IMAGINATION!). I think of Big Mo as a stack of blocks, where each piece had to fall into place before the story could feel complete, and you could hold a book in your hand.
I spoke on my unique role of creating both the story AND the pictures for Big Mo, and I encouraged each child to practice writing and drawing from observation.
"If you learn to draw the things around you, you can never be bored!" - Me :)
(admittedly, nearly EVERY page of notes from my school lecture notebooks reveals just how far I took this tendency to doodle)
My Book Tour was great fun, and I gained some inspiration and tips for thinking like a kid again!
** Special thanks to Dianna White (Oak Creek Elementary), Sara Romine (Woodstone Elementary), Ashley Miles (St. David's School) and Martha and Joy Winters (Casa Montessori)
** If you would like to arrange an Author Visit at your school, please reach out on the Contact Page - it would be an honor!