Friday’s visit to Galena Elementary School was a huge success. It felt so good to connect with students and teachers in person again after so much time presenting via Zoom.
We gave three assemblies and many elbow bumps and had lunch with a small group of kids who asked excellent questions. Our friend and education professor Sara Clarke-De Reza and her colleagues from Washington College were there to oversee the research side of things. (If you missed my earlier post, the plan is to use the Busload of Books Tour to conduct the first-ever, large-scale effort to quantify the impact of author/illustrator visits in elementary schools.)
The Galena Elementary students and teachers filled out one survey before we presented and another immediately after—the point being to see if our presentations moved the dial at all in terms of attitudes about reading and creativity. They’ll fill out a third survey six weeks from now to see if the changes (if any) persisted.
We can’t wait to see what the data has to say. But we didn’t need numbers to notice certain kinds of impact.
We started the day with a presentation for the pre-K – 1st graders on our picture book Everywhere, Wonder, in which we stress the importance of channeling observation and experience into storytelling. We remind the kids that their own lives are full of stories worth sharing with others.
About an hour later, this little guy tracked us down to share the beginnings of his “story” with us and came back one more time at the end of the day to share his continuing progress.
There’s at least one encounter like this in every school we visit, obvious evidence of a kid being excited and energized to imagine and create.
This is why we’re embarking on this journey—to foster these kinds of connections and sparks. And, with thanks to Sara and her colleagues, to see if we can measure them with something bigger than our hearts.