Saturday, September 6, 2008

You like me, you really like me...

(Ten points to the people who get the reference in the title of todays blog post). After welcoming NZ Book month in with the official Auckland opening last monday night, I followed up yesterday with author visits to three Auckland libraries. Karma smiled at me making my last visit the one to my own library at Mt Roskill. Unlike the other libraries, they had advertised my visit in their display case outside the library and set up another display featuring my work inside the library alongside where i was to sit. They had made fairy bread for the children and gave me flowers and chocolate at the end of the visit. I was overwhelmed by their appreciation and left feeling ten feet tall. I had my son with me and i swear he stood a lot taller too. So thank you to the librarians at Mt Roskill, you obviously care about children's literature and I'm sure it rubs off on your young readers. Mt Roskill library - YOU ROCK!

I have to say I was impressed with the children at all three libraries. The audiences were never huge but the children were patient, well behaved and polite. In a library you are kind of preaching to the converted as these are people who have already decided they like books. They are there because they want to be which is the best kind of audience to have. I have two more library visits later in the month and a visit at the Auckland Art Gallery.

It is good to have those first three visits under my belt. I was a bit stressed about it before hand. I am not a natural speaker and I'm still learning about finding the right tone for different audiences. I have a better handle on speaking to classroom groups as I'm clearer on what the agenda is but a public venue like a library is a different kettle of children. They are there because they enjoy reading but may have no interest in writing or the process of making books. They might not care where you get your ideas from or what you did when you were growing up. They want entertainment in the here and now. (School children probably feel the same but there is an expectation from all parties that some educational elements will be included). Thanks to Maria Gill's good advice I'd generated some word-finds which many of the children seemed to enjoy and I had some lovely flash-looking Jack the Viking postcards to hand around. I think most children get a kick out of taking something like this away. Best of all they did seem to enjoy being read to, which is great because I get a buzz out of reading aloud. At the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day earlier this year Wayne Mills gave a stirring lecture on the benefits of reading aloud. And not just to the younger children. I'm a big fan and I'm now thinking i might see if i can do more of it. The only tricky thing about reading aloud is what to read to a mixed audience. I am lucky to have written material over a range of age groups from picture books to short stories to novels. There's pretty much something for everyone. With school groups the ages tend to be homogenous and selection is much easier. Most older children don't mind hearing the occasional picture book but sadly I lost a few older boys at one of the venues despite having suitable material for them because of the littlies in the audience. I don't know if there is any way around this. I hope some of my other picture book stories are published so I have a wider range of material to read from. It is still looking possible that a third one will be published but it is (as with so many book related things in my life right now) up in the air. Even if it is, it is probably a couple of years away.


maureen said...

Reading aloud is my favourite activity with kids....probably coz I like to hear my own voice...thanks for the tips re word finds and postcards/bookmarks
it is a great reminder that it is not enough to have just written a book...Promo to the punters is everything....(and who pays for that I wonder...let me guess...not the publisher...)
and do I get five points for knowing it was an actress at the Oscars...can't remember which one Sally Field????

maureen-of course we like write a great blog!

Melinda said...

You get ten points! Not yet sure what the points can be redeemed for though?


Fifi Colston said...

sav ...redeemed for sav...