Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why Author Skypes Are Amazing

Disclaimer:  I am very much an introvert.  I got nervous about posting my first Tweet, which I believe was in a TitleTalk full of people I had never met.  I have heard wonderful things about Skyping with authors, but I never imagined that I would do that with my kids.  Skyping?  Yes, maybe.  With a complete stranger?  Hmm...  With a complete stranger who is also a well-known children's author?  Certainly enough to give anyone pause. 

Enter the fabulous Ame Dyckman, author of Boy + Bot.  Ame has a gift for making everyone feel comfortable. I "met" Ame on Twitter a few months ago.  She somehow manages to express unlimited enthusiasm in limited characters, and her love of kids and books is obvious. 

I work with a small group of first grade kiddos in an after-school writing club.  As a way to wrap up our spring session, I wanted to do something special with them.  Feeling brave, I sent Ame a message and asked her to Skype with our kiddos.  The result?  Total and complete awesomeness.  Here are the top 3 reasons that a Skype visit is amazing:

1.  Show kids that authors are real people

My little friends often think of capital-A Authors as these magical Others who live in a land filled with unlimited supplies of white paper and writing tools.  There's nothing like a conversation with an author to make that person real for the kids.  It helps when your author mentions that she needs to go pick up her daughter from the bus stop soon, tells her cats to stop fighting, and shows you her bag of books from the library.  Authors are real, people.

2.  Show kids that authors are readers

I think Ame mentioned somewhere around 10 titles during our 30-minute chat, showing us the books when she had them handy and mentioning a few others in the context of the conversation.  There's nothing like an author telling your kids to read to drive the point home.  I recommend books all the time, but a different (and famous!) voice doing the same is certainly a benefit.  This is a picture of the newest book tub in my room.  I think it's empty now. 

3.   Encourage kids to be authors NOW

There's nothing like a published author asking about your writing to encourage you to make more of it. Ame's enthusiasm for my students' writing and illustrating will go a long way. 

My first Skype author visit will definitely not be my last.  If you're on the fence, be brave and make a connection.  There are tons of authors who are willing (and excited) to Skype with your kids.  It never hurts to ask, right?  Thank you, Ame, for saying yes and for being awesome!

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